“Who am I? How did I get here?”

Pretty typical questions for children to ask.

For Latino/Latina/Latinx youngsters ages 6-10 wanting to find some answers, there will be a Spring Break camp, April 3-7, sponsored by Mudlark Theater, an Evanston-based children’s theater company.

Ana Narrajos, Mudlark’s education manager, tells Evanston Now that the camp, an outgrowth of a workshop last year for older kids, will use writing, games, and arts and crafts to help children discover what has shaped their lives and cultures.

“We use the term ‘Latinidades,’ Narrajos says, “because Latinx experiences are so diverse.”

Camp activities will focus on differences, and also “what are the things which unite us and bring us together.”

The camp is funded by a grant from Northwestern University, with NU students designing the programming.

Prof. Myrna Garcia is one of the leaders.

Garcia, who teches Latinx Studies, says when young children do not see themselves in a school or extracurricular program, “it speaks very loudly.” So it’s important for kids to “have an opportunity to have fun, hear the stories, and say ‘you matter.'”

Making a puppet at the Mudlark program. (Jose Dominguez Magdaleno photo)

Garcia says she grew up with very limited knowledge of her family’s past and culture.

“I had no idea of the history. I didn’t even know about it,” she says.

Once she did start learning, however, “it turned into my passion.”

Now, she is passing that passion along.

It’s vital for children to “see beyond stereotypes,” Garcia notes.

Garcia also says it’s important to reflect the “diversity of Evanston,” and that it’s not only Black and white.

While some of these issues may seem rather intense for six-year-old, Garcia says “young people know how they fit in or don’t feel like they fit.”

The camp, she says, will help “humanize their experiences, and let them know they belong.”

The camp will be held at Mudlark Theater, 1417 Hinman. While the 21-camper registration is now full, it is still possible to sign up for the waiting list, at mudlarktheater.org.

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

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