Young at Heart

I am thirty-five years old and I am a Disney Channel fanatic. I don't see it as embarrassing in any way, I am proud! The incredible family friendly programs on Disney showcase tremendous heart and humor, which allows the viewer to really immerse themselves in these at times seemingly real worlds of television teen make believe.

When you are watching Disney Channel you can't help but become lost in their teen based dramadies. You want to hug Riley (Rowan Blanchard), Maya (Sabrina Carpenter), Lucas (Peyton Meyer), and Farkle (Corey Fogelmanis) on Girl Meets World when they are struggling and you want to hang out at Sonic Boom with Austin (Ross Lynch), Ally (Laura Marano), Dez (Calum Worthy), and Trish (Raini Rodriguez), while jamming out on Austin & Ally. You want to be there in Best Friends Whenever when Cyd (Landry Bender) and Shelby (Lauren Taylor) get in over their heads while time traveling, but know that their best friend will always be there, literally whenever. You want to shoot hoops with Maddie (Dove Cameron) or spend an afternoon perfecting your acting craft with Liv (also Dove Cameron) on Liv and Maddie! You want to take on the world of espionage with K.C. (Zendaya) and help her complete her latest dangerous mission on K.C. Undercover. You recognize yourself in the heartache, hope, and happiness that all the characters experience in these standout Disney programs. You feel like you are a part of these characters' lives because the TV shows draw you in. There is excitement, adventure and a memory that you just can't replace.

They may be television characters, but they feel like life long friends. They can cheer you up with a joke, share a song when you are sad that will brighten your day, or leave you with words of wisdom that you can carry with you. It's all about family, friends and fun! You get to live out a life you dream about or spend quality time with the ones you love; and you can do it every single day because Disney is constantly airing new and old episodes of your favorite shows. Including shows you grew up on like That's So Raven and Lizzie McGuire!

Life isn't easy or perfect for anyone, whether you are an average joe or a Disney Channel character. Whether you live in Stevens Point, the setting of Liv and Maddie, or amongst the bright lights of New York in a fabulous penthouse like on Jessie, or spending your summer at Camp Kikiwaka like on Bunk'd, there is never a dull moment to be had. Life constantly throws you curveballs and when it is a Disney program there is no way to bob or weave, it's coming right at you! But with the support of family and friends, you can learn to tackle whatever does come your way with a grain of salt and your best foot forward. Disney does its best to show its viewers that life is unpredictable, but every minute of ups and downs is worth it when you have someone by your side that cares. You are never alone and support can come in many forms.

Shows like Girl Meets World and Liv and Maddie are so important because they teach young female viewers that feminism and female empowerment are needed now more than ever. We are just beginning 2016 and when we question inequality and what society has set for itself, we can hopefully make this new year one that is better for all instead of a select few. It can't get better until we make it better. Strong female leads who aren't shrinking violets and who know how to hold their own are becoming more prominent. Liv and Maddie also is setting a precedence by challenging media to ask female celebrities more than just about fashion choices. Red carpets are full of double standards and in a recent episode of Liv and Maddie they used guest star Kristen Bell to show that these media double standards no longer will be accepted. Disney is setting the bar high and showing females that they can reach and achieve higher and more than they can imagine. I recently introduced my seven-year-old niece to Disney Channel. She came for a visit over the holidays and had never seen any of the shows. It warmed my heart and touched my soul seeing her enjoy these programs and knowing she will see that there are strong teen females on TV that she can look up to and learn from.

What also makes these shows so relatable and transcend age ranges and demographics is that we have all shared similar experiences, or have felt these same emotions the characters go through. Having a crush on your best friend, being bullied, attending your first school dance, feeling like you don't fit in with your peers, etc. The ways in which these situations are handled may be unique with these programs, but the underlying messages remain the same. It's all a part of the growing up process that everyone experiences and that's how we all become better people. They teach us what we say and do matters and that we can have an impact on the world.

You will always have friends to turn to when you tune in to Disney Channel. You will be able to relive some of your life's most treasured experiences, make some new ones, make a few lifelong friends, and even live out a fantasy or two when you spend quality time watching Disney.