Kiana Smith performs during Stepping Up in Aid for Mission 14 Friday (June 14) at Malaspina Theatre. The event also features performances by Jayden Holman

Kiana Smith performs during Stepping Up in Aid for Mission 14 Friday (June 14) at Malaspina Theatre. The event also features performances by Jayden Holman

Dancer steps up for charity mission

NANAIMO - Kiana Smith hosts fundraising event for Mission 14 at the Malspina Theatre Friday (June 14).

It’s hard to hear about the suffering of children in countries around the world and not do anything about it.

Once Nanaimo’s Kiana Smith saw an opportunity to make a difference she began planning an event to help change the lives of children in poverty. The chance to help came from a conversation with her godfather Nick Cienski, who lives in Baltimore. Cienski is embarking on Mission 14. His goal is to climb 14 of the world’s highest mountains in one year to raise awareness about poverty in Nicaragua and the United States and raise money to help fight it.

Children are facing under-education, human trafficking and abuse, malnutrition, unemployment and the loss of family.

“He’s been to Nicaragua a number of times on missions and seen firsthand the abuse and situations these children withstand,” said Smith. “Knowing there are so many kids who are suffering in many parts of Nicaragua is hard to take in.

“I’ve always been passionate about working with kids. I thought it was an amazing thing to get involved with.”

Smith, a Grade 12 student at Dover Bay Secondary School, is hosting a fundraising event called Stepping Up For Mission 14 Friday (June 14) at Vancouver Island University’s Malaspina Theatre, starting at 7 p.m. The evening features a tap dance routine Smith created specifically for the event called stepping up. It also includes performances by Jayden Holman, the Dover Bay Secondary School Jazz Band, the Footclan Dance Crew, Vanessa Croome and Makaila Tombe.

According to the Mission 14 website only 27 people have climbed the 14 highest mountains in the world. It takes people an average of eight to 16 years to achieve the feat. Cienski will attempt to climb all 14 peaks in one year.

“The challenges of this expedition will mirror the challenges of people in poverty throughout the world,” said Smith.

The initial fundraising will support the expedition and once the mission begins efforts will start to raise money for charities.

Tickets for Stepping Up in Aid of Mission 14 are $15 in advance and are available at Vibrant Dance Studios, Performing Fabrics and Dancewear, e-mailing kianasmith@shaw.ca or $20 at the door.

For more information about Mission 14, please go to www.mission14.org.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com