Local Dance Studio Provides Affordable Fitness Classes to Promote Healthy Living

By Katie Carpenter, Enrique Luna and David West

Mural inside Healthy Hood

Tanya Lozano founded Healthy Hood in 2014. 

Growing up with a passion for social activism, she decided to take a look at what her own community was missing: the knowledge and resources in order to create a healthier lifestyle.

“Being a person in fitness and from a family of activists, I knew it was my responsibility to create some kind of solution,” she said.

Her vision was to provide quality fitness and dance classes, while adding two community gardens. The classes are offered at an inexpensive rate with the purpose of educating the underserved community on the benefits of health and fitness. The organization operates out of the recreational hall of Lincoln Park Church in the Pilsen neighborhood.

“There’s a 20 year life expectancy gap that exists in Chicago currently between communities of color and affluent communities,” Tanya said.

Mural from inside Healthy Hood

According to a June 2019 press release from the NYU School of Medicine, Chicago has the largest life expectancy gap in the country.

Out of the 500 cities taken into account, Chicago ranks number 1 with a gap of 30.1 years, with Washington DC and New York City trailing closely with gaps at around 27 years. 

Furthermore, the press release stated that, “cities with greater degrees of racial and ethnic segregation more often had alarming disparities in life expectancy.”

A 360 view of the outside of the Healthy Hood facilities.

As well as helping the Pilsen community become better informed on health and wellness, Healthy Hood also employs instructors from the community, supplying jobs to the Lower West Side neighborhood.

“I’ve only taken one class so far, but I’m hooked,” said Maria Garcia, a 20-year-old Pilsen resident. “I was recently told about the affordable classes from a neighbor and have always wanted to take part in fitness classes but couldn’t bring myself to pay the high monthly fees most gyms offer here in the city.” 

Garcia, along with many other residents of the city’s West Side communities, can’t keep up with the rising cost of living, which can directly impact an individual’s health and fitness needs. 

“Healthy Hood is different from other classes I’ve taken, besides the fact that they’re affordable, there is just a sense of acceptance and belonging when you walk inside” Garcia said.  “It makes you feel good to know you’re giving back to you community.”

Healthy Hood’s Next Step

While Healthy Hood is taking a step forward in closing the life expectancy gap, there is still more that could be done, specifically with older adults. 

Dr. David Marquez, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says that the non-profit can be doing more to include older Latino adults, who struggle to get involved in group physical activity.

The problem older Latinos face when in an environment like Healthy Hood, says Dr. Maruqez, is that they feel slow or they feel that the environment is more suited towards younger people. 

For Lozano and Healthy Hood, the next step for closing the gap in life expectancy would be to start classes tailored more to the needs of older adults. 

Healthy Hood does not require signing up, eliminating any problems older adults may have when trying to complete forms that are not written in their first language. 

According to Marquez, older Latino adults are trying to better their health, but access to information is the biggest hurdle for them because the information is not presented to them in a culturally appropriate way or it is all in English, which they speak little of.

“People are aware of their health and they want their health to get better and to be better,” he said.

Interview with David Marquez

Not requiring to sign up for the program, unlike most gyms, and making each class only 5 dollars makes the once tedious process of going to the gym much more accessible to older adults. 

“The instructors actually keep 80 percent of the profits and donate the other 20 percent to the organization to keep the lights on,” Tanya said. “We’ve been charging 5 dollars since the very beginning. We don’t plan on increasing that fee at all.”

Top 10 Taco Joints in Chicago

Chicago is home to some of the best Mexican restaurants in the country. Customers could be looking for the best tacos in Chicago, a hot tamale or some tasty carnitas, these Mexican restaurants will not disappoint.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional taco to satisfy your cravings or you want to try something unique like a Korean fusion taco, Chicago’s the place to find it. I created an interactive map highlighting all of the best spots to hit when looking for some amazing tacos.

The Rise and Fall of Vaping

By Katie Carpenter

Within the past few years the traditional way of smoking has been left in the past and a new electronic way has emerged. Vaping, as most people call it, is an electronic cigarette or e-cigarette, battery operated vaporizer that mimics smoking and delivers users several of the behavioral features of smoking, like the hand-to-mouth action of smoking, but without burning and inhaling tobacco. For years many people though that vaping was the healthier and cleaner option to kick cigarette addictions once and for all. Unfortunately, in recent times, vaping has been linked to a significant case of lung illnesses developing in users of all demographics. 530 vaping related illnesseshave been documented across the country.

With health officials warning the general public of this possible epidemic there has been a spike in the searching trends of vaping and vaping related illnesses in the U.S. This issue is concerning the American public so much so that the trump administration has relayed plans to instill a ban on the sale and production of flavored electronic cigarettes.  

Thanks to the new information given to the public, trends on google for searches of vaping and vaping ban surged in early September 2019. Going off of the trends pictured above it is very clear that the public is worried about this on going issue.

How a Young Girl Sparked an International Discussion on Climate Change

Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old Swedish activist, confronted UN officials during a climate change session.The young activist took aim at officials for not doing their part in slowing down the ticking time bomb that is global warming. Climate Change is an issue we often here about but has lost credibility in our most recent political climate. 

In her raw speech Thunberg does not hold back when it comes to being honest with the much older government officials that sit in front of her. She claims, “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” Greta spoke words that many grown adults would fear to say to people in power and her honesty touched the ears of millions of people.

Through analyzing google trends it’s obvious that Greta’s speech to the U.N. captured the attention of many as there was a spike in searches related to her and climate change around the time that she decided to take a stance. 

Push for Defunding Planned Parenthood Threatens Patients

By Teodora Marinescu and Katie Carpenter

With the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict funding, Planned Parenthood has found itself again at the center of the heated, ongoing pro-life versus pro-choice debate.

While  Illinois is considered to be a safe-haven for reproductive rights, conservative politicians have recently pushed for the defunding of this organization, which could affect the access to reproductive health care of over 50,000 patients.

Moreover, according to the Chicago Tribune, individuals from other states  turn to Illinois for better access to reproductive health services so they would also be affected. In 2017, around 5,500 patients traveled to Illinois for access to abortions.

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The Top 10 Best Beaches in the U.S.

Wish you could lay out on a beach under some clear blue skies, soaking up that sunshine with crashing waves setting the tone of your day? It’s time to stop daydreaming and finally plan that beach getaway for you and your family. The United States is one of the top ten countries in the world when it comes to total coastline area, and the country’s beaches are spread out over four coasts: the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes.

From the Florida coast to the beautiful Island of Hawaii, America has some of the most underrated vacation spots and beaches. Every beach listed has their unqiue vibe that draws crowds for a variety of reasons each and every new season. To evaluate each beach, it took both quality and quantity into consideration when it came to the beach reviews. Everyone loves a great beach day, so here are the top 10 best beaches in the United States, according to TravelChannel on

Google Time Lapse of New York City from 1984 to 2016

In 1997, New York City expanded their territory by obtaining the four Burroughs surrounding the island of Manhattan. The growth of New York, did not cease at the expansion of the city’s border- the whole population has grown exponentially. New York City has grown by over 1 million people since 1990. With a July 2015 population of 8,550,405, New York is the most populous city in the United States, more than twice the size of the second largest city, Los Angeles. With such a high amount of people living in one city it only makes sense that New York real estate continues to expand with sky scrapers. Below, the time lapse video portrays just how the concrete jungle has grown with their populations growth.

ILLINOIS CRAFT BEER SALES STATISTICS, 2017

In the graphic below you will find an information regarding Illinois craft beer sales for the year 2017.

Source: Brewers Association

Above is an infographic, identifying statistical findings on craft beer sales throughout the state of Illinois in the year 2017. The state of Illinois is ranked 12th in the country when it comes to the amount of craft breweries located in the state. While there is 385,874 barrels of craft beer is produced in the state and is ranked 16th in the nation. That can be broken down to about 1.3 gallons of craft beer per adult, who is of the legal drinking age. The craft brewery market has a 2,602 million impact on Illinois’s economy, averaging about 283.7 per capita.