A tale of two Midwestern cities
Index ranks one the best, one the worst, for kids
October 19, 1997
Web posted at: 11:09 a.m. EDT (1509 GMT)
From Correspondent Lisa Price
(CNN) -- Naperville, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana, are only
50 miles apart. Inside their high schools, the classrooms
look about the same. But step outside, and it becomes
instantly clear that the two communities are worlds apart.
The disparity may affect the cities' children more than
anyone else. A new quality of life index comparing living
conditions in 219 cities throughout the United States rates
Naperville as the best place for kids to grow up, and Gary as
In Gary, local high school student Caleb Ishman, says, "Most
of the kids, some kids do go through poverty and gang
violence. I think those are the two major things that affect
In Naperville, "you don't have to worry about people shooting
you and the violence going on constantly," said a student
The Children's Environmental Index, published by the
non-profit Zero Population Growth organization, looked at
quality of life indicators such as income, poverty and crime.
It found Naperville residents outearn their Gary neighbors by
nearly three times.
It also found the number of Gary children living in poverty
exceeds 42 percent. In Naperville, just 1.1 percent of kids
live in poverty.
And the difference in crime rates is dramatic. For every one
crime committed in Naperville, 43 are committed in Gary.
Ishman says he would like to see Gary as he's heard it once
was, a peaceful place to live. "Older people would tell me
how you would get dressed up just to walk down the streets,"
said the 16-year-old. "I wish that I was back there, and I
wish that we could see that now. As younger kids I know we
Community violence is not a worry for Naperville sophomore
Matt Briggs and his friends. Matt's parents don't worry
about it either.
"That's part of the reason we appreciate Naperville so much,"
Mike Briggs said. "Certainly as a family -- because we have
seen some of the other areas."
Willie Horn, the principal of Gary's Emerson High School,
said the study should mobilize the city and spur it to
improve living conditions there, calling it "a wakeup call
for our city."
Yet, despite their proximity, the distance between these two
cities appears to be growing greater every day.