The Northwest Indiana region exceeds state and national averages in areas of the high school dropout rate, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and teen pregnancy. The city of East Chicago, Ind. is not exempt from these negative health and educational trends. However, there is one organization that is working to break this cycle and build a healthier future for East Chicago.


Top 20, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that works with teenage girls who live and go to school in East Chicago to promote healthy habits in a fun and supportive environment. The group meets every Saturday morning during the school year at Westside Junior High in East Chicago. But health education is not practiced in the traditional classroom setting. The girls at Top 20 learn many of their health and life lessons through dance.


Top 20 recognizes that dance is not only something that the young women of the area enjoy but it also serves as a vehicle for health and nutrition lessons that get students up and out of their seats. In addition to dance lessons, the girls at Top 20 have the opportunity to learn through public recitals, field trips, community service and sessions with mentors.


The focus of these lessons is making good choices. The organization teaches the young women to make positive choices regarding their health, education and career paths.


The organization was incorporated in 2011 and has been teaming up with local for-profits and non-profits, such as the Foundations of East Chicago, for funding ever since. This year, Top 20 is expanding its curriculum to include a summer session. This will ensure that the girls continue to receive support and encouragement to make good choices throughout the year.


For more information on Top 20, visit