This year has been exceptional for our NOPE of Hillsborough Chapter. We have already reached more than 8,000 students with our stories and messages this school year. We are thankful for our partnership with Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sherriff Office, and the Hillsborough County School District as we empower and educate our community on ways to help fight this epidemic of youth substance abuse, addiction, and substance-related deaths.
Do you realize that more than 2,500 teens try prescription pills for the first time every day in our country simply for the sake of getting high? It is this startling fact along with the increase in vaping related illnesses and deaths that we continue to fight this crisis in our community, our state, and our nation. When we first started our student presentations for this new school year there were 3 reported vaping-related deaths. Now we are at 52 in our nation and it seems each day there are more deaths added on. That is an increase of 49 deaths related to vaping in just a little over 90 days. INSANE! Yet still, people are picking up an e-cigarette, a vaping device and thinking it will never happen to them.
We were fortunate enough this year to have Howard W. Blake high school students create a revised, updated Middle School video for our NOPE student presentations shared at middle schools in the district. This revised video is amazing, and we are so pleased with the relevant changes. If you would like to take a look at this great work from the TV/Film Production team at Howard W. Blake High School right here in Tampa, Florida just email me at and I will send you the file via Dropbox.
Another fantastic thing that happened this year of 2019 with our NOPE of Hillsborough Chapter is our Chapter President, Cathy Valdes, was awarded the Community Hero Award from the Lightning Foundation. Each home game a local non-profit or community person that is doing GREAT things in the Tampa Bay Area is awarded a $50,000 check to be donated to that organization’s and/or person’s choice of non-profit efforts. We collaborated with WEDU, HCADA, and the YMCA for various projects connected with the fantastic monetary award. Great things are on the horizon for Hillsborough County thanks to Jeff and Penny Vinik, The Tampa Bay Lightning, The Lightning Foundation, and all of the philanthropic vibes all of these entities create.
It is with GREAT dismay that this epidemic of youth substance abuse, addiction, and overdose deaths continues, but it is with hope for a better future as we work to diminish the number of deaths in our community connected to vaping, marijuana use, prescription pills, and beyond. It takes a village, and we hope that you will join our village in 2020 as we look towards 11 scheduled student presentations with new schools adding every week. These NOPE of Hillsborough student presentations are free of charge to any school, faith-based organization, work-place team, and community group wishing to educate and empower their members on how we can help fight this epidemic. Join us. Click here to find out how you can get involved with our efforts.