The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

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Forever15 presentation raises awareness about fentanyl abuse

Founder+of+the+Forever15+project+Janel+Rodriguez+tells+her+late+sons+story+to+raise+awareness+about+fentanyl+abuse.
Grace Dosek
Founder of the Forever15 project Janel Rodriguez tells her late son’s story to raise awareness about fentanyl abuse.

Students on campus observed a presentation delivered by the Hays County Sheriff Department and the Forever15 project on Wednesday, Jan. 10 that. Together, they displayed the dark reality of substance abuse and fentanyl.

House Bill 3908, which went into effect on Sept. 1 requires students in grades 6-12 across Texas to be educated on fentanyl and drug poisoning awareness.

Deputies Anthony Hipolito and Mark Andrews started off the assembly with gruesome camera footage of a Hays County student during an overdose on fentanyl but ultimately survived. 

“After I saw the video of an actual person overdosing, I realized it’s a way bigger problem than I initially thought,” Sophomore Giulianna Bibiano said. 

In line with the footage and statistics, the deputies spoke about Naloxone, also known as Narcan, which is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, with an activation time of two to five minutes. Student Resource Officer Robert Martinez expressed his appreciation for the narcotic that could be the barrier between life and death. 

“It could take EMS 5-10 minutes [to arrive] and in those five to ten minutes we can be administering Narcan, saving a kid’s life,” Martinez said. 

Krystal Waltz agrees that their number 1 priority is to take action.

“Usually when someone is unresponsive, you have a time frame,” Waltz said. “And since [students] are already here, [we] want to act in that time frame.”  

The deputies soon wrapped up their portion of the presentation and the microphone transferred to Janel Rodriguez, founder of the Forever 15 Project. 

Forever15 is a non-profit organization intended to spread awareness and information on fentanyl poisoning and addiction. Rodriguez started Forever15 after her 15 year old son, Noah, died from an accidental fentanyl overdose in August of 2022. 

A week before Noah passed, Rodriguez  and her family were planted in the living room with the news on. She tuned in at the mention of ‘rainbow fentanyl’. 

“That was the first time I heard the word ‘Fentanyl’ but the news didn’t make it seem alarming,’” Rodriguez said. “So I really had no clue of what fentanyl was until Noah passed.” 

After Noah’s death Rodriguez  and the Hays County Sheriff Department teamed together to provide knowledge about substances to communities. During their time together, Janel decided to start Forever15. 

“One day I just said to my husband, ‘Forever15 Project,’’ Rodriguez said. “And he was like ‘what are you talking about?’ And I responded, we’re going to start a non-profit, we’re going to tell Noah’s story, we are going to save lives.” 

Noah’s story is just one of thousands, but Rodriguez remains strong. She not only continues to educate the uninformed, but continues to bring optimism to those who have also lost a loved one to substances. 

“There’s hope,” Rodriguez said, “Everyday is not going to be rainbows and sunshines, but your life is just as precious as the life that was lost.”

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