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Altgeld Gardens Tries to Stay Cool

by Quintana Woodridge and Alisha Jacobs 

A playground not equipped with sprinklers in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development stands empty during the recent heat wave. Altgeld has a shortage of cooling centers. Photo by Quintana Woodridge.

Editor’s Note: The following article was co-written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program class at People for Community Recovery, a not-for-profit organization based in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development, and Quintana Woodridge, our youth program coordinator.

Over the summer, Altgeld Gardens has been feeling the heat. The residents in the Chicago Housing Authority public housing development on the Far South Side have not had a public place where they can go to stay cool. Most of the rehabbed units in the development have central air systems in their housing units, but when they are not working, there are very few places to go. The nearest swimming pool is also closed and there are no sprinklers in the play lots throughout Altgeld.

A few residents recently expressed their concerns about the Phillis Wheately Center Library being closed on several hot days during the month of July; at the time there was a heat advisory across the Chicago area. The residents were under the impression that the library is a designated cooling center. Residents were shocked to find out that a central air conditioning system was not installed in the library when it was opened.

“When it’s hot out we open the windows and put fans throughout the library. If it gets too hot we don’t open the library for that day,” said Shante Jackson, the children’s library associate told Residents’ Journal youth reporter Alisha Jacobs. Jackson went on to say that for a few weeks in September, the library will be closed so that an air conditioning system can be installed. Read more »

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How to Deal with the Next Heat Wave

by Alisha Jacobs 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program class at People for Community Recovery, a not-for-profit organization based in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development.

This July, Chicago battled extreme heat. But what exactly is a heat wave? A heat wave is caused when a large mass of hot air stays over an area. Chicago hasn’t had a heat wave advisory since 1996, when there were about 750 heat-related deaths over a period of 5 days. There are heat warnings in over 36 states, so we’re not alone. Most places have reached triple digits repeatedly, according to ABC news. The extreme heat left over 150 million people around the country trying to find relief in any place possible.

Most people don’t know that elevated temperatures are a public health threat that leads to a considerable number of deaths. Every year a lot of people are hospitalized or die due to exposure to high temperatures. An average of 400 deaths are annually counted as heat-related in people who are 65 years and older. Elderly people should make sure their temperature doesn’t rise above 102 degrees, because the condition can quickly lead to heat stroke, according to USA Today. We have to make sure we keep an eye on elderly family members and friends. Seniors are more vulnerable to the heat because their body does not contain as much water as young people.

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