Kelvin Kay, en:user:kkmd, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Livatino played Kris Kringle on Christmas Eve.

On Friday, Livatino, the athletic director at Evanston Township High School, along with other volunteers, delivered Christmas presents to 30 Evanston children who attended Livatino’s Camp Kuumba last summer.

That camp, in turn, is part of an organization called Equity and Empowerment For Evanston Families, which Livatino created last fall, after the shooting death of ETHS alum and basketball player Ryan Bost.

The group’s purpose: “to try to serve young Black males who need access to the same resources and opportunities that others have in Evanston.”

The three-week-long camp incorporates sports, academics, field trips, financial literacy, and, Livatino explains, “activities and hobbies which catch campers’ attention and helps them find their passion and purpose in life.”

Kuumba is one of the principles of Kwanzaa, centering on creativity and the need to leave the world a better place.

The campers are in third through eighth grades. Livatino says there is a “need to capture the minds and hearts of our kids at an early age.”

Between the recent fatal shooting on Green Bay Road, the guns-in-school incident at ETHS, and all of the social and economic dislocation from COVID-19, Livatino wants to help a vulnerable and underserved group, Black male children.

With that in mind, Livatino is asking the community for more volunteers, people who can help coach, teach, mentor, and inspire children. Or, if someone wants to donate money instead of time, Livatino says that will help Camp Kuumba add more programs, and also move towards year-round activities.

The camp provides three weeks worth of learning and fun. “We need to fill in the other 49 weeks of the year,” Livatino says.

Actually, the Empowerment program does have some non-camp activities already, including a “masculinity” seminar this fall in cooperation with Northwestern University, which teaches “the traits and characteristics of becoming a good, positive man.”

And despite all the bad news that seems to surround all of us each day, Livatino says he’s “super optimistic” about the future for Evanston’s young people.

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Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.