Many creative and persevering children from different backgrounds and cultures inspired the creation of Performing Arts Master Classes and Events (PAME). Thousands of youth have participated in PAME campaigns with the purpose of helping their community understand their needs.
PAME gives children and youth a voice in philanthropy through the arts. Earlier in 2020, they held a #powerofdiversity campaign in Peoria to get youth involved. The goal of the #powerofdiversity campaign was to bring youth together to celebrate cultural differences and similarities by respecting each other through a diversity-awareness photography contest.
PAME is happy that the campaign allowed children to express themselves about important issues. Groups in Illinois and Texas partnered with them to permit youth to be loud and proud about their actions, bringing forth positive change. The photos shown here are images selected from students in Illinois whose work was displayed at the Peoria Art Guild.
What Our Community Needs Most: Accessible Healthcare in Peoria
by Aasiyah Adnan
In tumultuous times such as these, the spread of COVID-19 has pushed the American healthcare system to its limits. As hospitals struggle to get the protective supplies they need for their staff and patients, the cost of care rises steeply. The American Hospital Association finds that treatment of COVID-19 could be well over $88,000 for those who need ventilators. This current pandemic has reminded the public of the presence of health inequity and the unbearable burden of healthcare costs, and this is starkly apparent in Peoria, Il.
Peoria is home to four large hospitals along with their respective care centers: OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, UnityPoint Health, Methodist Medical Center, and Proctor Hospital. These hospitals provide care to the larger Peoria area, surrounding suburbs, and rural areas. However, one look at downtown Peoria and the stark juxtaposition between itshospital facilities and its residents is obvious. According to the United States Census Bureau, the poverty rate in Peoria is 16.6%. NPR Illinois’s “Impoverished in Illinois” finds that steady employment is difficult to find and thus many traditional jobs for teenagers are going to full-time workers. This is compounded with the fact that 24/7 Wall St. listed Peoria as the seventh worst city for Black Americans to live. The average poverty rate may be 16.6%, but USA Today found that compared to a poverty rate of 9.3% amongst the white population, 34.5% of Black Peorians live in poverty. All of this has laid bare an inequity between a large population of Peoria and its healthcare system. They areunderinsured or uninsured and unable to utilize the facilities present.
The problem is vast and complicated. Almost 40% of Peorians do not go for annual routine checkups and 12.5% do not visit a doctor because of cost, according to HOI United Way’s 2017 assessment. However, solutions do exist to help combat this large divide. One solution is streamlined and transparent resources. Companies like GoodRx provide coupons for reduced cost prescription drugs, and many pharmacies also have $4 and $10 drug lists. All four hospitals also offer financial assistance services, but they can be difficult to navigate. Expanding awareness and creating better and easier accessibility to these cost-reducing resources will ease the burden on all individuals, even those with proper insurance. Another solution is to take advantage of technology. COVID-19 has shown that telemedicine is possible as many individuals communicate virtually with doctors and physicians for appointments and checkups. The reduced cost of online resources and their widespread availability allows for cheaper, more accessible options for patients. While the system is still young in Peoria, its implementation has begun, and support in its development and usage will help the program grow.
In the meantime, clinics such as Heartland Health Services and Córdoba Clinic work to provide free and reduced primary and specialty care for Peoria residents. These clinics are geared toward the underinsured and uninsured, and they work to provide excellent care at low or no cost. They can only serve the community if they are supported through spreading awareness about their services and, if possible, donating. While the problem of healthcare in Peoria is glaring, supporting solutions that exist and pushing for the implementation of accessible services can help to better the health of the community.
About Aasiyah Adnan
Aasiyah Adnan is a senior at Dunlap High School. She is dedicated to community involvement on multiple levels. At school, she is academically competitive in her classes, a cross country/track captain, varsity runner (IHSA State qualifier in 2018 and 2019), Madrigals performer, speech captain and varsity performer (IHSA State qualifier in 2020), Scholastic Bowl varsity player, and Best Buddies officer. Aasiyah is also the Dunlap Student Body President and a part of Twelve Eagles, a student group focused on bridging the gap between the student body and administration. She focuses on ensuring that the student voice is heard and has spoken out at school board meetings about student mental health. She is currently in the process of starting the Muslim Student Association at Dunlap, and she hosted the first Global World Hijab Day in recent memory last school year. In the community, Aasiyah is active in her local mosque and volunteers at the Sunday School. She has been a Girl Scout for twelve years and is currently working on her Gold Award project on Muslim representation and resources at Dunlap. Since January 2019, Aasiyah also volunteers weekly at Córdoba Health Care, a free specialty clinic in Peoria that provides care to the uninsured.
It’s early 2017, and my teachers have announced our next teamwork building field trip. Soon enough, the entire eighth grade class got ready to hop on a bus to watch Hidden Figures in theaters. The movie is known for its feelgood undertone, an ode to three powerful, intelligent, and determined Black women defying all odds in the NASA spaceflight department and forever altering the United States’ presence in the realm of space travel.
I smiled to myself—I had already seen the film… twice! My excitement was through the roof. It’s easy to see why films like Hidden Figures have such charm. But what does a story about the women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) of the past have to tell us about women in STEM today? Have we come any further, or is the glass ceiling yet to be broken?
According to the American Association of University Women, women only make up 28% of the STEM workforce. Many suggest that girls are naturally less interested in science, which isn’t true—at least from a worldwide perspective. In the United States, girls and boys take STEM classes in roughly equal numbers, with the exception of engineering and computer science classes, in which boys have greater enrollment. However, in other countries with higher degrees of gender equality, there is decreased disparity in the number of girls and boys in these types of STEM classes. There is also no such biological difference in boys and girls that makes boys more apt to STEM (“The STEM Gap”). In essence, it seems to be a very American thing for women to feel excluded from STEM—a result of the culture that we breed.
The women in STEM problem is seemingly a self-fulfilling prophecy. Girls are deterred from pursuing science degrees in college due to the fear of being the odd one out. Another negative influential factor is the lack of strong female role models in STEM. One Harvard University study suggests that if girls had the same number of women who were inventor role models as boys have in men, the disparity between women and men in innovation would be cut in half (Bet et. al 2018). Looking specifically at race, Latinas and Black women are the minority groups most likely to be discouraged from STEM careers due to a lack of equal resources and opportunities (“The STEM Gap”). Asian women are much more represented in STEM and are thought to be progressing well in the field. However, according to Issues in STEM and Technology, Asian women are trailing behind all groups in the number of executive positions they hold in their careers (this issue is often referred to as the “bamboo ceiling”), indicating that no group of women is free from discrimination (“Asian Women in STEM Careers”).
Hidden Figures remains a wonderful film, even if it is not the reality for many women, as we have still not reached the happy ending that was displayed on the silver screen. But perhaps the solution to our problem is right in front of us, stitched into our culture, ready for us to unweave their century-long threads of bias.
For more information and resources for women in STEM, check out https://women. nasa.gov/ or https://www.ncwit.org/resources.
About Anjali Yedavalli
Anjali Yedavalli is a senior at Dunlap High School. Aside from taking academically rigorous classes, Anjali is involved in Speech Team (IHSA State qualifier in 2020), Student Council, UNICEF Club, the school plays, Jazz Choir, and is the Madrigal Queen of Dunlap’s Madrigal choir. Anjali’s main goal in the community is spreading passion for both academics and creativity. She has organized and led multiple public speaking workshops for middle school students and volunteered her time at North South Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding underprivileged children in India. In addition, she has joined and contributed to the Dunlap Young Musicians, a student-created music group that performs at senior homes on the holidays. She is also active in her Sunday School (Chinmaya Mission) and has helped write promotional songs and plays to help fundraise for the school. Last but not least, Anjali is a classically trained Bharatanatyam dancer of Mythili Dance Academy and has contributed to shows that have raised over $500k for a variety of charities.
When looking back to the first lunar landing in 1969, America has come a long way. We have sent out probes (space exploration devices), satellites, and observed the cosmos through high-powered telescopes. From the Earth, we see the wonders of our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and beyond. Back in 1969, the mere thought of humans living on another planet was strange and outlandish—not because no one had thought of it, but because humanity did not have the technology to make this task feasible. But now this dream could be within our reach in just 10-15 years.
Over the years, scientists have been gathering information on other planets and evaluating them to see if they could potentially sustain life. Since planets outside our solar system are unreachable due to the vast distances of space that separate us, Mars has been a long-time option for creating a potential habitat. But nothing has been as promising as our very own Moon, and as of recently, NASA scientists have made an astounding discovery.
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (also known as SOFIA) observed water on a sunlit part of the Moon. The location that water was found at is known as the Clavius Crater, which is big enough that it can be seen from Earth. We have known for many years that the moon harbored water. In fact, the first time any nation uncovered this fact was in 1976, when the Soviet Lunar 24 probe found traces of water inside the soil of the Moon. Since then, a multitude of countries have invested their time and money into collecting information and even sending out their own probes. Until recently, the water that had been discovered on the Moon was limited to the shadowed and extremely cold parts of the surface (down to -387 degrees Fahrenheit), which is what makes this recent discovery a tremendous stride in the right direction.
While the discovery of water on the sunlit surface of the moon might not seem like a big deal at the moment, it provides evidence for a theory that water may be distributed throughout the surface of the Moon. Even with blazing temperatures reaching up to 260 degrees Fahrenheit, the fact that water can still be found on this part of the Moon makes scientists wonder: How much more water is there on the Moon, and if we can find more, can we collect it—and more importantly, use it?
As humans continue to evolve and discover new things, the idea of building a colony on the Moon might not be as far away as it was once thought. The discovery of water gives hope that one day, in the future, humanity might not call Earth their only home.
If you would like to read more on NASA’s discovery, visit here.
About Izaak Garcia
Izaak Garcia is currently a senior at Richwoods High School, enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. After high school, Garcia plans to study Computer Science. He has played soccer with FC Peoria and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and Computer Science for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two total productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new coding languages, and video games.
[button type=”http://www.peoriapublicradio.org/post/peoria-big-picture-comes-warehouse-district-street-art-film-festival#stream/0″ ]Peoria Big Picture Comes to the Warehouse District with Street Art, Film Festival[/button]
Big Picture coordinator Allison Walsh spent two weeks in June teaching students from Peoria Public Schools how to make short films using their smartphones. Here are the final student projects, and read the full Peoria Journal Star article.
The Civil War memorial statue next to the Peoria County Courthouse may soon be under the scrutiny of Abraham Lincoln,
wrote Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star on July 1, 2018.
The Lincoln mural is part of the Big Picture street festival set to run on Oct. 13 in Downtown Peoria. Big Picture is an arts initiative with a focus on murals, public art and performance. It’s initiated by local artists Doug and Eileen Leunig.