Blog Feed

Teen Pregnancy Rates in Chicago Over the Past Decade

By: Gianni Hrobowski and Noelle Sanzeri

UIC student Mary Ellen Kandu was faced with some difficult decisions when she became pregnant in 2017. At 18 years-old, she wasn’t sure she was prepared for what lay ahead.

“Being a teen mom wasn’t something I was ready to do and I didn’t have the resources to support me or my child,” she said. “I knew I had options but I felt very alone in the process.”

Kandu is just one of the many teen moms in Chicago who had to make a tough choice for herself and her future child. Would she raise him alone and forgo her plans for college? Would she get an abortion and deal with the backlash from her family? Or would she opt for adoption and the difficult process of finding the perfect family for her child?

Ultimately, she found a family that was the ideal match for her and her son, but not every teen mom is this fortunate. “It was a lengthy process that involved interviewing several families,” she explained, “I wasn’t even sure if adoption was what I wanted to do, I waited two weeks before officially signing any papers,”. Some young moms might feel scared to start this process alone, or might not even know exactly what their options are. 

But Mary Ellen’s story is becoming less common, as a 2017 report from the Chicago Department of Public Health says that teen birth rates reached a historic low in the city of dropping from 72 births per 1,000 women to just 41.

According to the study, the low came after eight consecutive years of decline and in 2014, which at the time the most recent piece of data showed that there were 32 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 years old.  This was more than a 62 percent drop from the 85.2 rate in 1999. 

According to Gutt Matcher Institute, “Abortions in Illinois represent 4.9% of all abortions in the U.S.”. Illinois has also seen an increase in clinics that perform abortions, increasing 4% from 2014 to 2017. This is one of the numerous factors in the drop of teen birth rates in Illinois.

Chicago still has a teen birth rate higher than the national average of 18.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 years old, but has dropped more than 20 percent compared to the national rate. The city is taking important steps and going in a direction where we see fewer birth rates occurring. They have seen declines in teen births through all racial and ethnic groups since 2010. African American women are seeing the most drastic decline during that time, dropping from 72 births per 1,000 females to just 41. 

Becoming pregnant as a teen can lead to many challenges for the parents and the child. Studies have also shown that approximately 38 percent of teen mothers earn a high school diploma and less than 2 percent earn a college degree by the age of 30.

When you are faced with challenges of being a teen mother and have to raise a child you have to prioritize your time to take care of another person and not just yourself. Overall, the rates are going down on teen pregnancy in Chicago and more teens are practicing safe sex. 

Mary Ellen also works as an online mentor to teen moms, offering support and talking through issues. “People in this area often don’t feel supported by their families and don’t know what resources are available to them, making an already stressful situation even worse,” she said. 

Susan Altfeld who works at the School of Public Health at The University of Illinois at Chicago said cultures vary as to values around early parenthood and single parenthood and these factors impact rates of teen childbearing. 

Altfeld also cited an article from the CDC that said U.S. teen birth rates decreased 7% from 20.3 births per 1,000 women in 2016 to 18.8 births per 1,000 women in 2017. She added that these statistics aren’t necessarily representative of differing socioeconomic factors or race disparities. 

Altfeld shared an article from the Chicago Public Schools that said schools “must teach sexual health education every year and every school must have two trained instructors who have completed the district’s instructor training.”

Altfeld said CPS districts take learning about sexual health education very seriously and make sure that the curriculum is medically accurate, age appropriate, and comprehensive for students. However, according to ChalkBeat, “150 schools in Illinois, including 22 schools in Chicago, used a sex education curriculum that focused on abstinence as birth control,” as of 2019. 

Although abstinence based sex education can be a cause for concern, CPS schools have strict requirements on what must be taught in schools. From Kindergarten to senior year, students are taught about sexual health at age appropriate levels, according to CPS.

UIC student Noelle Sanzeri’s mother and former teen mom, Leah Kiefer explains, ”There are no easy options. When I was 19 and deciding whether or not I should keep my baby I was pregnant with, so many factors came into play,”. She explains that ultimately even though she didn’t keep the baby she was lucky enough to have options available to her and a supportive family.

Leah Kiefer says, “I wasn’t alone, and that is why it is so important for young moms to know what options are available to them, so that they can create a network of support,”.

Tips to Prevent Coronavirus

By: Gianni Hrobowski

COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus has stormed the media these last weeks of March in the United States and earlier across the world. The news and other media outlets are telling people to stay inside if possible and to practice social distancing.

Many places across the world are shutting down to stop people from coming in and are trying their hardest to not spread this virus. In the United States, many stores are closing, universities are closing, and people are being forced to work from home.

Going to a grocery store has also become a challenge with people buying bulk supplies of essential household products like toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer causing frustration with many. With all this panic happening here are some tips to prevent getting sick from the CDC:

Red Light Cameras in Chicago

By: Gianni Hrobowski

Places all over the United States have used red light cameras to help capture images of vehicles running red lights and abusing the rules of the road. Red light cameras were used in Chicago starting in 2003. They were designed to increase safety on Chicago streets stopping hazardous situations from occurring. You can access data of all the red light camera locations from The Chicago Data Portal.

The images receive an initial review by the camera vendor to make sure the quality is acceptable. The images are sent to the City’s Department of Revenue for review then are processed. Red light cameras only take pictures when incidents occur and not when drivers are legally turning right on red after a complete stop which drivers have frequently questioned.

Here is an interactive map where you can see over 100 of the red light cameras placed all over Chicago.

Map of the 149 red light cameras in Chicago, Illinois. (Map/ Gianni Hrobowski)

The Tragic Death of Kobe Bryant on the day of the Grammy Awards, Kanye West and Adidas take over the streets of Chicago during NBA All-Star Weekend

Kobe Bryant was an American professional basketball player who transferred to the league directly from high school. He played his entire 20-season professional career in the league with the Los Angeles Lakers. On January 26, 2020 Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six family friends, and the pilot all passed away in a helicopter crash going to a basketball game. While people were in shock and mourning over this tragic event celebrities had to get ready for one of the biggest nights in music.

The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held in Kobe Bryant’s home court this year the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This year they awarded many talented artists with awards like Tyler, The Creator for Best Rap Album, Lizzo for Best Pop Solo Performance, and Billie Eilish who swept the board winning five awards, including best new artist and song of the year.

These two topics were both trending in the news on the same day. According to an analysis of Google Trends search data, Kobe Bryant maintained the highest search for that day over the Grammy Awards. People all over the world heard the news about Kobe Bryant and were trying to find out facts about what had happened.

Kanye West and Adidas take over 2020 NBA All-Star Game Weekend

Kanye West an American music artists, record producer, entrepreneur and fashion designer had one of the biggest sneaker releases of the entire year with Adidas over All-Star Weekend. Kanye West and Adidas have been working together since 2013 creating the Yeezy shoe line. According to Forbes, West’s upstart is expected to top $1.5 billion in 2019 and growing. Kanye West’s first performance basketball sneaker the Yeezy Quantum dropped exclusively in Chicago where the All-Star Game was held.

Secret Sherp ATVs, were in secret locations one being Wicker Park giving away the shoes for free to individuals in the area. This exclusive shoe dropping in his hometown of Chicago caused a stir in the city and was a big deal to sneaker heads.

The NBA All-Star Game was held in Chicago for the first time since 1988 and was exciting to bring it back home to The Windy City. They had the usual events like the Dunk Contest and the Celebrity All Star Game. The two team captains were Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

According to an analysis of Google Trends search data, Yeezy had been searched more than the NBA All-Star Game on the day of the game. Kanye West and the Adidas empire, they have created in such a small amount of time seems to be more important than the NBA All-Star game to people in 2020.  

The Chicago Bulls Attendance from 2006-2019

The Chicago Bulls are an American professional basketball team from Illinois. The interactive chart above shows the number of people in attendance for their regular season home games. The series one column shows the number of people in attendance and the series two column shows the average number of people for the different years.

The highest number for attendance was 912,364 in the 2006-2007 season. This season was the highest because they reached the second round of the NBA Playoffs. At this time this was their most successful season since Michael Jordan retired.

In 2010-2011 the Bulls had Derrick Rose one of the most explosive players the league had ever seen. It was one of his best seasons awarding him with the NBA MVP Award. This caused the downhill spike of the Bulls attendance to increase going back up to 893,462 after doing poorly from 2008-2009.

The Chicago Bulls were on the road to victory until the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers. Derrick Rose tore his ACL in his left knee which caused fans to be devastated. The attendance went down to 731,326 that season.

The team has managed to recover from the 2011-2012 season which was crucial for them. Since then they have traded players, formed an entirely new team, and brought in new coaches. The Chicago Bulls have had an on and off attendance record, but has stayed in the 800,000-900,000 range after the 2012 season to 2019. The Bulls are currently working on improving the team and are hopeful of another 90’s championship run again one day.

Chicago Cubs Attendance from 2007-2016

The Chicago Cubs is a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. The Cubs have a core fan base that is willing to support them through the wins and losses. The team is notorious for their history of 100 years of not winning a championship. This would be one of the longest team streaks of not winning a world series until it was broken in 2016.

In 2008 they had a record high year with the attendance being 3,300,200 and the lowest attendance rate being in 2013 with 2,642,682. In 2016 the attendance went back up to 3,232,420 with the team playing better taking the crown back to Chicago.

Quinn: Illinois Pensions Threatening MAP Grants

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

How Public Transportation Leads to Less Pollution

By Natasha Petrenko and Gianni Hrobowski

Katie Polanski is a sophomore at DePaul University who lives in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. 

She takes the Red Line and the No. 5 bus seven times a week to get to classes and run errands. Public transportation is a big help for those like Polanski who may not have a car or just avoid driving in the city.

“Parking is hard to find in Lincoln Park and buses and train will get you pretty much anywhere you wanna go,” Polanski said. 

Polanski is one of 3 million people in the greater Chicago area who use public transportation to get to work, school or just have fun. In doing so, it reduces the number of cars on the road and, as a result, pollution.

According to the Federal Transit Administration, 29% of greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation. It also states that trains produce 62% less and the bus produces 33% less when compared to cars

Kate Yoshida who works in the Office of Sustainability at The University of Illinois at Chicago stated, “We are in a non compliant zone here in Chicago for a certain size of particulate matter and those are triggers for asthma and other respiratory diseases so anything we can do to reduce diesel emission will help people breathe.”

Ryan Reyes, a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, lives in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and takes public transportation everyday to commute to school and work. During his commute, he rides his bike to save time and gets on the Red Line. 

“Being without a car in the city makes it harder to get to places quicker, but with the CTA it helps a lot,” Reyes stated. 

Reyes said, “The CTA helps me a lot and gets me to my destinations faster. If I had to walk everywhere in the winter it would be a pain.” 

The Chicago Public Authority that has been providing Chicagoans rides on trains and buses since 1947. Another form of public transportation are the Divvy Bikes, which were introduced in the summer of 2013. 

Both companies are great ways to start creating a more sustainable city. This is not something that could be easily fixed but if Chicagoans narrow their focus down to neighborhoods within the city then progress can be made in making Chicago more sustainable. 

Lincoln Park is a well known neighborhood in Chicago that offers all three options. It includes the Armitage and North and Clybourn CTA red line stops, the Fullerton and Sheffield CTA bus stops and a handful of Divvy Bike Stations. 

The Numbers

The Community Data Snapshot, Lincoln Park from June 2019 provides data from surveys that have been taken from 2013 until 2017. According to the study, 40,668 residents that commute to work, 18,874 who use transit, and 4,118 who either bike or walk. These numbers seem great however, 14,662 still drive alone and 1,736 carpool on a daily basis. 

The Community Data Snapshot also provides statistics on the methods that Chicago use as a whole. There are 1,228,651 total commuters, 363,149 who use transit, and 107,662 that walk or bike. There are still 633,387 commuters who drive alone and 101,904 that carpool. 

More individuals, especially those near many transit options, such as in Lincoln Park, should utilize other forms of transportation instead of driving to help improve the environment. In addition, the amount of traffic would also be reduced in the city overall.


Buses and trains are a lot more efficient cars, according to Dr. P.s. Sriraj, the Director of the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

He explained that there are about 40 seats per bus and if we know how many riders there are per car, which he said is about 1.2 then we can calculate to see how many cars are not in use just from buses alone. 

“When buses are operating in mixed traffic,” said Sriraj, “they are stopping and going, there’s a stop on every block, every stop and start comes with more pollution, and that’s then the same thing you will find in the cars.” 

Sriraj explained that it would not be a good idea to create more bus stops due to all the pollution that is emitted when stopping.  

Sriraj added that El trains are a cleaner option than buses because they are electric. 

“Even with all of that the CTA bus system coupled with the train system will be far better to the environment than having that many cars on the street,” he said.

Applying this calculation to Lincoln Park provides more specific insight. There are around 18,874 individuals who use transit, after dividing that number by 1.2 the number of cars that are not on the streets is about 15,728.

Edward Bury, who works with Sriraj, said that programs such as Divvy allow many individuals to get to a destination where a bus or train may not be able to get to. This is called the last mile and transportation methods such as Divvy Bikes allow many more individuals get to where they need to go.  

In addition, Bury mentioned that the city as a whole is trying to make biking safer by installing bump-outs in the street to prevent vehicles from making sharp turns. 

Another good reason to utilize forms of public transportation, especially in Lincoln Park where there are a handful of stations there and in surrounding neighborhoods.

Photo by Natasha Petrenko

Kate Yoshida who was mentioned previously provided good information on how people in the community can get involved and improve how the environment is in our interview.

If you live in the Lincoln Park area and want to start helping the first step is to be aware of the harm that goes on in the environment and let others know about it. Being self aware and having the ability to spread the message to others is a way the problems can get fixed. 

“We need to not see easy solutions as a solution because at some point we need to come to terms with the harm that’s been done,” said Yoshida.

This statement states that people are looking for an easy solution to fix problems that have been going on for many years. The things wrong in our society can’t be fixed overnight and will take a lot of work to rebuild. 

“Start by looking at the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and how we get from place to place. Those are all parts of sustainability,” she said.

Photo by Gianni Hrobowski


Top 10 Chicagoland Hot Dog Restaurants

Chicago is known for their famous Chicago style Hot Dogs. The amount of Hot Dog restaurants Chicago has can be overwhelming for visitors. I made a list of the top 10 Hot Dog restaurants to check out when your in the Windy City.

  1. Gene & Jude’s– The crisp fries on top of the hot dog make it the number one place to go to when you are in the Chicagoland area.
  2. Devil Dawgs Wicker Park– They have a large variety of hot dogs and amazing shakes to go along with your meal.
  3. Jim’s Original– The original hot dog and a favorite for many UIC students. Photos courtesy of Victorgrigas
  4. Portillo’s Hot Dogs– A Chicago classic everyone who visits needs to try, along side a large order of fries and chocolate cake shake. Photos courtesy of Navin75
  5. Wrigleyville Dogs– Perfect spot to go right after a Cubs game to get a tasty hot dog. Photos courtesy of Discosour
  6. The Wiener’s Circle– Classic Chicago dog is the best one to order here. Photos courtesy of Walshga
  7. Jimmy’s Red Hots– This restaurant has been opened for over fifty years and is a favorite by many Chicagoans.
  8. Chicago’s Dog House-Restaurant has a lot of creative hot dogs and other sausages.
  9. Flub A Dub Chub’s– It is hard to see this restaurant being in the lower level of a building, but has great variety in hot dogs and other dishes.
  10. Superdawg Drive-In– This restaurant has a classic drive in giving off a nostalgic feel. The shake and fries are a great addition with your hot dog. Photos courtesy of CommonsHelper2Bot

Photo of hot dog on google my maps is courtesy of Deansfa

Google Trends: Earth’s Extraterrestrial Weather due to Climate Change and Area 51 Raid, Gun Control vs E-Cigarettes

Climate Change is a topic that many people are talking about in recent news. The planet has been changing for thousands of years, but recently the Earth is warming at a more rapid pace. While many people are concerned about the serious issues of climate change for the future of our planet others are worried about less serious things going on.

These other things being Area 51 which is the name of a highly classified United States Air Force facility in Nevada. A gamer named Matty Roberts created a Facebook event on June 27th about how we should all form together and storm Area 51 to see what is really inside.

These two topics were both in recent news trending at similar times for different reasons. People all over the United States have been going on strikes for Climate Change. Area 51 Raid has gained traction all over the world and government officials have warned people to stay away from the area since it is a secret base for workers only.

According to an analysis of Google Trends search data, Area 51 Raid maintained higher searches over the last 7 days. The event was scheduled for September 20th and you can see that searches were very high since people wanted to see results.

Despite the climate strikes happening at many different places over the United States Area 51 raid was looked at more in the media.

Gun Control vs E-Cigarettes

A topic that has been in talks for years in the United States is Gun Control. With incidents happening all year due to unnecessary gun violence people have been in talks in ways of regulating it.

Earlier this month Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and Ted Cruz had a heated exchange over their thoughts on gun control. Ted Cruz spoke on how gun control isn’t working looking at cities with high crime rates like Chicago. Lightfoot defended Chicago on Twitter and talked on how a huge percentage of these fire arms come from outside of Illinois.

While this is occurring E-Cigarettes are taking the world by storm because of the 7th death related to vaping. An electronic cigarette is a battery operated device that uses vaporized nicotine. California is planning on launching a 20 million dollar ad campaign to warn people on the danger of using vape pens.

According to an analysis of google searched data gun control has been searched greater than the number of E-cigarette searches within the last couple of days.

Although the topic of E-cigarettes is getting serious and more out in the public. Gun Control seems to be a bigger issue people have been looking into with all the politicians talking.