Sammy Mack

Sammy Mack loves public radio and public policy.

Mack is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. She is a St. Petersburg native and a product of Florida public schools. She even took the first FCAT.

Mack previously was a digital editor and health care policy reporter for WLRN - Miami Herald News, where she covered the public health and health policy beat. For two years, her health reporting with WLRN was supported by the grant-funded HealthyState.org project. She was selected as a 2012 fellow with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Her stories have also appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, HealthNewsFlorida.org, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

April is national poetry month and the O, Miami poetry festival wants to reach every resident of Dade County with a poem—including a group of South Florida students with severe disabilities.

WLRN went to one of the O, Miami-sponsored poetry workshops at the Brucie Ball Educational Center and has this audio postcard from the young poets:

"I'm hoping to give them an entryway into the genre and into self-expression and eventually self advocacy," says Donald Welch, who helped run the workshop for the kids at Brucie Ball.

Mental health providers in South Florida are stressing the need for more trauma awareness and suicide prevention resources following the apparent suicide deaths of two young survivors of last year's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

There's a proposal in Tallahassee right now that could make it easier for injection drug users to trade dirty needles for fresh ones -- preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

A trial project in Miami Dade County is the only legal needle exchange in Florida. The bill would let the other counties to create something similar.

It's been exactly a year today since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and anniversaries can be particularly hard on survivors of trauma.

In May, we brought you the audio diary of Leonor Muñoz, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the class of 2018.

Leonor carried a recorder and documented life in the aftermath of the shooting—her activism, her trauma, her family.

 

Leonor's in college now. The recorder went with her. And she has this update on how she's doing—a year later.

 

This post was updated at 3:18 p.m. on March 25, 2019. 

The aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School continues to ripple through the community around the school and beyond.

The journey to healing is unique for each person, but no one should have to walk that path alone.

WLRN has compiled a list of mental health resources to help. We will periodically update it. 

We're well into flu season and South Floridians are feeling it.

The Florida Department of Health tracks new flu cases and outbreaks, and according to its weekly report, flu is on the rise in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties. And while most of Florida is reporting new flu cases, the rates appear stable in Broward and even dropping in Palm Beach.

Madison Waldron has an app on her phone that, on the surface, looks and acts a lot like a fitness tracker. But then there are the survey questions it pushes out to her:

"Questions in regards to what I do for a living, education and things like that," she says as she thumbs through her phone, showing her scheduled doctor visits. "And I get questions as far as my sexual history and my practices."

The first anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is less than two months away, and, starting Friday, Professionals United For Parkland is offering a series of workshops to help the MSD community prepare for traumatic reactions associated with the milestone.

Florida has confirmed its first case of acute flaccid myelitis, or "AFM"—a rare, serious illness that affects the nervous system, particularly among young children.

The symptoms of AFM look like polio: muscle weakness, facial drooping, trouble swallowing or speaking. At its worst, AFM's been linked to respiratory failure.

The Florida Department of Health hasn't released many details about the confirmed case—not the condition of the patient, their age, or location.

Florida State Parks want to help you usher in the New Year with a "First Day Hike."

More than 35 events are planned at parks across Florida on Jan. 1 as part of a national initiative to get folks out to their state parks. And unlike national parks, the federal shutdown won't affect state park facilities on the first day of the new year.

Nobody does quirky news stories like Florida does. And from the Great Lake Worth Zombie Scare of 2018, to the one about the horse who walked into a bar, the past 12 months of headlines have been no exception.

As is tradition for us this time of year, we're taking a moment here in this South Florida newsroom to reflect on the year in oddball stories—the ones that tickled us, or left us shaking our heads, or made us say, "this is why we can't have nice things."

The fall semester is over for students across South Florida—and at Exchange for Change, it's been a particularly meaningful semester. 

The program teaches writing and fosters literacy within South Florida prisons, and earlier this month, it hosted a formal graduation ceremony at Everglades Correctional Institution.

There were no caps or gowns, just the same blue uniform of every other day, but graduates were called up to a microphone to read their work to the audience of fellow inmates, guards and civilian teachers and visitors.

The year 2018 is almost over, and Florida Matters is looking back at the stories that made headlines in our region this year.


Floridians living with HIV are increasingly getting the medications they need to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the virus, according to a new report from the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

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