"There are two reasons that Florida became a state," says Vasquez. "Mosquito control and air conditioning."
The concept of mosquito control is two-fold: Spray to protect from diseases spread by mosquitoes like dengue fever, and now chikungunya, and to make a bug-infested swampland actually livable for people.
At least once a week for about five months, Jalen Brown and other children from South Miami boarded a bus and took the 15-minute drive to Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove for swimming lessons.
Along the way the children, many of whom live in low-income housing, saw “mansions” they dreamed of living in and cars they hoped to afford one day.
The bus ride bridged a gap from their small, historically black community in South Miami to the affluent private school where swimming is part of the routine and not a privilege.
Now, after several emotional speeches about the challenges of getting the pool built and the drownings that occurred in the interim, community members in South Miami quickly made themselves comfortable in the water.
A few kids in South Miami, a city with no public pool, are getting the opportunity to take free swim lessons at Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove.
Tina Scott, a pediatrician in South Miami, arranged the partnership between the city and private school to address the lack of swimming skills she regularly saw in her patients.
“One of the things that I do when I see patients is to ask about water: Do you live near water? Do you have a pool in your backyard? A canal? To make sure that the kids actually know how to swim,” she says.
Florida has the highest rate of drowning in the country and for those younger than 4, water is the No. 1 killer aside from birth defects. But the danger is not spread equally among all children.
Overall, black kids drown at a much higher rate than other children. But among the youngest group of kids — younger than school age — whites and Hispanics fare worse. It’s around the 4 or 5 years old when those tides turn and black kids drown at about three times the rate of other children.
When Richard Blanco got the call that he'd been chosen to write a poem for President Obama's second inauguration, at first he thought it was a prank. He still has no idea how he ended up on the President's radar.
"I would dream actually that the President has actually read my work and was so moved by it," says Blanco, laughing, "that he said, 'I want this guy to read a poem at the inaugural.'"