Looking for a bit of happiness during these very challenging times?


Ready for a bit of really good news?


Our NOPE of Hillsborough Chapter surprised TEN Hillsborough County senior students with a $1,000 scholarship each last month. We received more than 65 applications this year for our NOPE of Hillsborough scholarships. A record-breaking number of submissions!


Because we had so many quality applications and essays we teamed up with Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance and The Michael Valdes Foundation to help award more than the normal three scholarships we distribute each school year.


Each student had to submit their application online, provide two letters of recommendation (one from a Hillsborough County School District employee and one personal one), their student permanent record summary, and an essay surrounding the three major points covered during the NOPE Student Presentation and how they will take those messages and carry them into their future journey.


Many of the essays brought the scholarship committee to tears. These youth of today are so-often articulate and ready to take on the world’s challenges with no fear. Read below just a few snippets of some of the essays:


“One never knows what the future holds- not for themselves, and certainly not for someone else. However, it all starts with one person. It all starts with one person simply saying “no.” It all starts with one person warning others of the dangers one incident can hold. I plan to be that one person because it only takes one time for an overdose to occur, and this cannot be undone.
Being a New York native, I was shocked to hear one of the main points of the presentation where Florida has the Good Samaritan Law. This law protects those who are underage from any legal action when they call for assistance during what they believe is an overdose. This is something that I was unaware of, so my immediate response was to see if New York had this law as well, and it turns out, they do. However, this information was never presented to me and I do not want this law- whether it be in Florida or New York- to go unnoticed. I believe the knowledge of this law will improve the chances of saving the lives of underage overdoses as teenagers will no longer be reluctant to involve authorities due to the fear of harsh consequences.”


How about this one:


“During the month of March, I had the honor of listening to the NOPE presentation presented to me at Riverview High School. Going into the presentation I expected to be receiving another boring talk about how drugs are bad and illegal. Instead, I learned several new life lessons that will stick with me throughout my life. One of the things that stuck to me the most was the poem written by the mother of the young man who lost his life due to drugs. Hearing the pain in her voice as she told her story brought tears to my eyes. It was evident that she loved her son and was doing everything she could to prevent this from happening to other teens even if that meant having to bring back the unbearable memories.”


And then there is this essay snippet:


“Drug abuse can negatively impact the upbringing of children and the lives of families every day which is why the three main points of the NOPE presentation are so critical– they bring awareness to the issues that coexist with drug abuse. The first point being “breaking the code of silence.” This code of silence is arguably the most harmful initiative, with little effort. The victims of drug abuse are enabled to continue using until the point of no return, simply because their loved ones don’t want to “snitch”. What I take away from this point is that if we truly care about our friends and want what’s best for their health, we must look beyond temporary disappointment and think of the wellbeing of their future. Sometimes this includes telling their parents or those who can help make a difference.
The second point of the NOPE presentation is how one time can kill you– meaning it only takes one dose of a drug and the user could be killed. For example, Fentanyl is one of the strongest painkillers, but it’s also one of the easiest to die from if the dosage is wrong. It’s frightening how a couple extra milligrams of an opioid can kill you. There have been many times where I’ve heard my peers talk about “recreational” drug use. I think it’s important to advocate for drug abuse education, as many people don’t fully understand the risks– especially that the “recreational” “one-time” use could be your last.
Lastly is the third takeaway– noticing signs of an overdose. A fast heartbeat, hallucinations, uncontrollable vomiting, overheating, and unusual pupil dilation are all signs of someone overdosing. I know these signs all too well because although my mother never overdosed, I always saw the distant, clouded, unfamiliar look in her eyes when she was high. At the time I never understood why she slurred her words or gazed distantly, but I now realize how closely she dangled on the edge of overdose.”


We welcome the day we are able to return to Hillsborough County Schools and share our NOPE student presentations once again. In the meantime, the entire presentation was filmed last March (2019) at Jesuit High School and it is available on our website 24/7. Take one hour out of your family’s life and experience the NOPE presentation together. It just might spark a dialogue in your home that might save your family from the drama and heartache associated with substance use disorder. Here is the link to that NOPE of Hillsborough student presentation (click this sentence).