Nasya Mancini, 17, of Sparks, Nev., a senior at Edward C. Reed High School, has taught a weekly acting class for children at a local homeless shelter for the past two years, and directed her students in a major theatrical production performed for the community each April. Several childhood experiences inspired Nasya to become an acting teacher: she began acting at age 5, started volunteering with her mother for nonprofit organizations at 6, and also was bullied at a young age. "I know from personal experience how acting provides self-confidence and encouragement," she said. "I wanted to contribute my skills and passion to children living at the shelter, making them feel like they're important and empowered to offer value."
Nasya teaches basic acting skills to children at the Volunteers of America Family Homeless Shelter in Reno every Sunday evening. Then, for the two months leading up to their annual community performance, she meets with her students four times a week to rehearse. For the April shows, Nasya recruits 10 volunteers to help with costumes, makeup, sound and lighting, plus several local actors to collaborate with the shelter kids. More than 240 people, including the mayor, have attended the first two productions. "It's a life-changing opportunity to see the kids on stage performing for their families and community," said Nasya. "These children have a strength and courage that is beyond words. You just must believe in yourself and you can do anything!"