Nonprofit offers resilience training to Chicago student athletes

By Allegra Zamore
Medill Reports

Since the 2015-2016 school year, the state of Illinois has seen a significant decline in the number of high school athletes participating in sports, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Due to costs, access to proper athletic performance training is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for students.

In 2017 Rich and Shea Gardner co-founded Maroon Village, a nonprofit that aims to provide athletic performance training to Chicago student athletes. The husband and wife duo teach students, ages 12 to 25, to work on mindfulness and meditation followed by two hours of intense physical training on the football field or in the weight room. Maroon Village aims to bridge the gap between access to athletic training and reaching one’s full potential.

Photo at top: Student athletes practice breathing exercises with Maroon Village Co-Founder Shea Gardner before football practice.(Allegra Zamore/MEDILL)

Drinking problems rampage among college students causing severe health risks

By Xinyi Zhang
Medill Reports

College students often assume that they can escape most of the negative physical and mental effects of consuming alcohol because they are young and healthy and some don’t drink all that frequently. But even minimal consumption of alcoholic beverages can still have significant negative impacts on health regardless of age. That’s according to Dr. Mashkoor A. Choudhry, a Loyola University professor of surgery, microbiology, and immunology.

Alcohol has a major impact on physical health, personal safety, and is linked to mood, and eating disorders, he says.

“Regular alcohol consumption affects multiple organs including the brain and greatly influences a person’s cognitive abilities. Alcohol has an immediate effect on the brain, making it difficult for a person to inhibit impulses and concentrate,” Choudhry says. This increases the likelihood of making poor decisions and may encourage irresponsible sexual behavior and drunk driving, the cause of many accidents. Frequent alcohol consumption puts college students at risk and may result in physical harm, injury or even death. Continue reading

Dew Suriyawan shares the art of authentic Thai food

By Harrison Liao
Medill Reports

I didn’t know anything about Chinese food until I found out how much I didn’t know about Chinese food.

My parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s from Hunan, a landlocked province in central China. They had me in 1994 in Ann Arbor, while they were pursuing graduate engineering degrees at the University of Michigan. The first food I ever put in my mouth was sourced with simple, affordable ingredients and recipes passed down to them from my parents’ upbringings. I thought this was Chinese food in its totality.

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Chicago area recycling industry struggles after China bans waste imports

By Lucia Whalen
Medill Reports

Before China halted the importation of plastic and other recycling waste from around the globe, the majority of Americans were living in a fool’s paradise. For most people, recycling ended at dumping paper, plastic and glass in a large bin – blue in Chicago. From there, most people paid little attention where the stuff landed.

That all changed in 2018, when China implemented its “National Sword Policy,” implementing strict restrictions on waste and metal imports coming in from other countries. China’s plastic imports are now down by 99%, with paper imports down by a third. Suddenly recycling is front and center in the news, and the public is more aware of the fact that their recycling was, in fact, being exported to another country, and that suddenly the world was facing a crisis in waste.

“China, the biggest buyer of scrap material from the U.S., stopped buying and the tariffs came in.  You have the biggest buyer of scrap material saying, ‘We’re done. We don’t have enough mills to process the materials we have now,'” said Joshua Connell, a managing partner at Lakeshore Recycling Systems. “China was the biggest buyer of our plastic commodities and now they’re not buying from us anymore. We have too much supply and not enough demand in North America for that supply,” Continue reading

Predicting climate change depends on supercomputers and Germany has Europe’s only supercomputer dedicated to climate

By Lucia Whalen
Medill Reports

Hamburg is home to one of the fastest-thinking supercomputers in the world at the German Climate Computing Center (DKRZ). The supercomputer whizzes through global tsunamis of climate data to develop climate models used in landmark blueprints for the future, including the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The German Climate Computing Center is the only high-performance computing center dedicated to climate research in Europe.

Supercomputers are responsible for some of the pioneering breakthroughs in modern science. From biology and space physics to projecting the effects of global climate change, supercomputers are necessary for quantifying the gargantuan mathematical projections and scientific problems assembled by scientists to create models and analyze data. Supercomputers have become an essential tool for climate forecasting because the large quantity of data required to create climate simulations would take years to calculate on a normal computer.

The Misra supercomputer system at the German Climate Computing Center was ranked 80th on the TOP500 list of supercomputers in the world. (DKRZ)

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Volunteer Coordinator supplies the heart of Community Feast Soup Kitchen

By Joshua R. Skinner
Medill Reports

Community Feast, a volunteer-run soup kitchen, has operated every Sunday in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago for the last 35 years. Unlike most soup kitchens, Community Feast serves restaurant-style meals, complete with seating and menus.

Volunteers are at the heart of that service, many of whom have given the Rogers Park area their Sunday evenings for more than a decade. Each of those volunteers is connected by Volunteer Coordinator Northa Johnson, who has refused to let time, distance, or health stop her from helping those in need.

Photo at top: Freshly cooked mealed meals have been a weekly staple at Community Feast in Rogers Park for over 35 years. (Joshua R. Skinner/MEDILL)

Erosion leaves Rogers Park residents uncertain about future of local beaches

By Joshua R. Skinner
Medill Reports

The beaches in Rogers Park are at risk of being destroyed. After years of erosion brought on by rising water levels, Chicago is racing to save what’s left of Howard, Juneway, and Rogers beaches. As an emergency measure, the city is installing armored boulders to halt further erosion, claiming the rocks are a temporary solution. But local residents aren’t so sure and fear the days of going to the beach in Rogers Park are over.

Photo at top: Rogers Beach is one of three Rogers Park beaches that are undergoing emergency construction to stop erosion.(Joshua R. Skinner/MEDILL)

Native American Powwow draws a multi-cultural crowd at UIC

By Anika Exum
Medill Reports

Every November, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) hosts a traditional powwow to commemorate the start of Native American Heritage Month.

Chicago is home to the Midwest’s largest Native American population and is the second largest east of the Mississippi River.

This year’s powwow was the 27th annual event, hosted by UIC’s Native American Support Program (NASP) and the Native American and Indigenous Student Organization (NAISO). Members of the community from across the city, throughout Illinois and even outside the state gathered in UIC’s Student Center East for a night of traditional dance, drumming, singing and food.

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Ten-thousand miles and two knee surgeries later, Jess Sancataldo continues to chase her dreams

By Tony Garcia
Medill Reports

Jess Sancataldo has long had lofty aspirations.
Whether it was playing four sports at a time when she was a child or joining the Australian National team for Handball in high school, Sancataldo has always pushed herself.

In eighth grade, she made the decision she wanted to play collegiate basketball in America.

That journey wasn’t easy and despite being met with her largest obstacle yet this offseason, Sancataldo continues to strive for her dreams of playing professional basketball.

Photo at top: Jess Sancataldo, a sophomore on the Northwestern women’s basketball team, won’t let two knee surgeries get in the way of chasing her dreams. (Tony Garcia/MEDILL)

The evolving, not disappearing, presence of ethnic cuisine in Chicago

By Annie Lin
Medill Reports

“What is authentic?” Rooh’s executive chef Sujan Sakar remarked. “Nothing is authentic.”

“I am having a hard time with the definition of authentic anyhow,” said longtime Chicago Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel. He thinks that it is going to be impossible to find authentic or traditional restaurants.

In recent years, the $30.1 billion restaurant industry in Illinois has seen an emergence of restaurants marketed as contemporary, modern, fusion, and globally inspired. This raises the question of whether these new restaurants are replacing traditional, family-run ethnic restaurants.

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