Nasya Mancini has had dance shoes on her feet since she was two and she started acting at six years old. Now 16, Nasya is still performing, but with a purpose. She spends hours every week teaching acting and dancing to a group of kids who might not otherwise have an opportunity to learn these skills. The children she works with live at the Volunteers of America Family Shelter. "You'd think that they'd be down because they're in a homeless shelter, but they're not. They're so upbeat!" explains Nasya. For about a year now, the Miss Northern Counties Outstanding Teen has made it her mission to build up young people at the family shelter.
"This just makes them happier because it lets them forget about their situation for a while." Likewise, acting has always been an escape for Nasya. She says she finds the most joy under the bright lights in a world away and she hopes to give these kids the same experience, while also teaching them the importance of volunteering. Her parents encouraged her to give back early on, too. "I love community service and I've been an actor since I was six, so I thought why not combine the two and helping kids really brings a smile to my face and really brightens my day."
The young people she works with look forward to her workshops even more, where they learn skills that they can take through life: poise, teamwork and, most importantly, confidence. "That's the opportunity that Nasya is giving to the children here. She's helping them really discover what they're truly capable of," says VOA Development and Community Relations Officer, Sandy Isham.
Nasya is choreographing a show for the kids to take the stage later this month. They will be presenting Peter Pan and they sure are excited. "Because we're all going to work really hard and try our best to make a great show for everyone," says 13-year-old, Adrienne, who has always loved the idea of performing. Now she gets her chance and her fellow castmates are thrilled to have this opportunity as well. Nine-year-old Sophie added with a big grin on her face, "It's fun! This is like my first play!"
It wouldn't be possible without a young lady whose spirit shines just as brightly off stage as it does under the bright lights. To these young kids, Nasya isn't just a mentor, she is someone who is giving them a chance and lifting them up along the way. "It's an honor for me. I really enjoy doing it."
You can watch the culmination of their hard work during a free performance of Peter Pan on April 30th. It's happening at the Southside Cultural Center at 190 East Liberty Street from 6:00 to 6:45 p.m. RSVP to Sandy Isham at 322-7143.
As for Nasya, at the end of May she will compete for the title of Miss Nevada Outstanding Teen. She is also auditioning for college at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and she hopes to one day open her own performing arts school.
Written by Kristen Remington