Harold Ickes News


Rehab clock ticking

Although the Chicago Housing Authority is actively pursuing the great change of housing stock from high rise to low rise to the tune of $1.6 billion, the change has been slow in coming to the Harold Ickes Homes. In the year 2001, some vacant apartments were remodeled and some new tenants moved in. At that time CHA announced that all the apartments were to be remodeled. But, so far, that is not so. Many residents say we seem to stay on square one.

Death respects no one
In early October, two young men were shot on the ninth floor of an Ickes high-rise at 2250 S. State St., allegedly after they were involved in an altercation at a party. One victim died, and one is still alive on a life support system.

During the wee hours of one November morning, three young adults were shot at Ickes. Fortunately none of the victims were killed. But as usual, death has no respect for person, and we lost a three-year-old child in an unrelated incident.

Friends of four-year-old Rodney "Rambo" Bridges pay their respects.

“Rambo,” whose real name is Rodney Bridges, would have been four years old on January 17, 2004 but died following a fall while playing in a large dumpster outside his family’s home. In his short life span, neighbors said, he was known for his strength and intelligence. He was born to Frederick and Kathy Arnold of 44 W. 24th St. He attended Henry Booth Head Start and was described as enthusiastic and anxious to discover new things daily.

This reporter was filled in with unsolicited rumors of how he died, was taken to the hospital, etc., but I patiently waited for an opportunity to interview the parents in order to set the record straight.

K.A. “…[H]e would be sitting at home waiting for his older sibling to arrive so that he could go outside and play with them. He would look forward to this every day.”R.J. “What time did the accident occur?”

K.A. “On the day it happened, the kids went outside to play as usual, to play where I could see them, where my uncle sat on the steps and could see them, right out of my windows. We live on the first floor or the ground floor.

“We were not worried. They did this daily. It was about 5:30 in the afternoon.”

Mr. Arnold, with tears still streaming from his eyes, expressed his frustration at this point by trying to reason out why the huge dumpster that proved to be the site of the fatality was allowed to be there for such a long time. Arnold explained that it is attracted many children who used it as a playground.

Mrs. Arnold continued her explanation of what happened.

K.A. “Five minutes or so after they left the house running to play, one child came back saying, ‘Rambo is dead.’

“I ran out to where he lay by the door that swings open to the dumpster and found Rambo lying, bleeding from behind his ear. His father rushed him over to Mercy hospital, where they pronounced him dead.”

Mrs. Arnold reported that the dumpster is still very much present outside their windows and there are three dangerous large cushion couches discarded against the dumpster. This sort of cushion is another attraction to children living in the development. Other children in the family, according to Mrs. Arnold, are reporting nightmares because of the constant visual reminder of the dumpster.

Mrs. Arnold recently went to the management office to ask for an accelerated relocation date, she said. Management told her that it would take some time because, even though she is eligible, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has taken over the job of new housing for her family’s particular circumstances.

The National Teachers Academy
Recently, representatives of the National Teachers Academy led a tour at the school for seven participants from London, England.

Their visit to the United States was to observe the newest education institutions for optimum learning in America.

Residents’ Journal was invited to join the full tour with this particular group. Representatives from the school said the purpose of the tour was to showcase the day-to-day activities in the class rooms that make up the NTA educational experience for each student.

“Our teachers have a passion for teaching,” declared Principal Linda Ford during the tour. “This is one of the reasons that our students are learning so much and are happy to be here.

”One of the main highlights of the tour was the visit to theinfants/toddlers section.

Wow! What a setup. Tour participants were instructed to cover their shoes with surgical covers or go barefoot in order to enter the infants/toddlers educational space. The room was equipped with age-appropriate furniture and toys and “teacher friendly” educational tools. Teenaged mothers have first priority to enroll their children in this program, according to school representatives, and for the first three months of enrollment, they too have to attend for two hours a day before turning over complete care to the staff.

Members of the British entourage reported that they were thoroughly engrossed in a storyteller who was part of the tour and was telling an African fairy tale that culminated in the toddlers and teachers dancing. It was a totally inspiring exhibition of children learning cultural moves at a tender age.

Organizing for health
At a pre-Thanksgiving meeting, fifteen parents of students of the school assembled and went to a local food mart and requested that the proprietor not sell candy, soft drinks or any junk food to students before school starts in the morning. It was a quiet meeting, and at last he agreed to post a sign up in the store to ensure no student has an opportunity to disobey the rules of the school.

When the parents and RJ returned to NTA, we learned that each parent’s household would receive a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. What a surprise! Both right on time and welcome! Thank you, NTA!

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