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Parents get an ‘eye-opening’ look at what might be lurking in children’s rooms
By Cynthia Haggitt
Jen Shirley and Rachel Friedel came out of hiding on Saturday at the Kampsville Celebration.
Both women, work for the Calhoun County Health Department , and are heading up the “Hidden in Plain Sight” project.
According to the “Hidden in Plain Sight” website, “The program began in 2017 and the Camanche-DeWitt Coalition and the Gateway ImpACT Coalition and the program partnered on the “Hidden in Plain Sight” project. “Hidden in Plain Sight “is an educational experience that walks you through a typical teenage bedroom. This is an interactive program offers adults insights into current trends in youth substance abuse, drug paraphernalia, concealment of illicit drugs & alcohol. Volunteers educate community members about drug trends, paraphernalia, how to talk to youth about alcohol & drugs, and what to do if a problem is suspected.”
During demonstrations like the one in Kampsville, the “Hidden In Plain Sight” experience was presented in an open house style. There was a mock bedroom set up, and attendees were able to walk through with a guide who pointed out what they might not be seeing. Other informational and display materials were positioned outside the exhibit for review and inspection.
“This is a simulated interactive teenager’s bedroom,” Shirley said. “Parents can walk through and see how kids today are interacting with their friends. Like for example, looking at pictures on the wall, which usually display if you look closely at the pictures you can see teenagers hanging out with their friend and partaking in alcoholic and drug paraphernalia behaviors.”
Friedel said parents should make a regular inspection of their children’s rooms.
“The bedroom will teach you what kinds of risky behavior kids are displaying and what kinds of things a parent needs to look out for,” she said. “We decided we wanted to investigate a little bit further and procured an educational grant to help parents see what kids are doing right under their noses.”
Friedel and Shirley said all of the items set up in the mock bedroom can be bought or ordered online.
“Most of these items will be seen in a parent’s household, and most families will have the majority of all the items,” Shirley said. “The bottom line is that all these items can be bought on Amazon, Wal-Mart. So when you go investigate the trailer, you will see items like soda cans that look like soda cans but actually you can twist the can and it can hide an object, a clock that is actually a safe and you can open the clock and hide secret stashes, or you will items like a glass or lotion bottle that looks normal but, alas, is not-its really empty and can be used to smuggle items.”
Both Friedel and Shirley emphasized that the goal is to teach the following:
• When and how parents should start talking to their children about drugs;
• Key times youth are at risk for substance abuse issues;
• Risk factors of youth substance abuse;
• Signs and symptoms of substance abuse;
• Common ways/places drugs are hidden;
• Paraphernalia used in the processing and use of illicit drugs;
• Law enforcement’s experiences in combating alcohol and drug abuse;
• What youth are saying about substance abuse issues in the communities;
• Local and national resources for those seeking help and information.
“I learned alot from this and it is amazing,” Pam Maiborumm said. “It teaches you how to communicate with your kids without invading their privacy. We never did these things or had programs such as this when we were younger.”
Maiborumm’s friend, Cindy Manos, said she was floored by what kids could be doing. She said when she was younger there as the “Dare Program” and it didn’t even compare to what she just experienced.
“I have never seen anything like this,” Manos said. “Every parent needs to walk through this simulation of a teen’s bedroom. It’s eye-opening.”
“The Hidden in Plain Sight” program will be at the Calhoun Fair on Sept. 9-12 and will be working with the Walkin Women’s Club in Brussels on Sept. 18. More information is available on the Calhoun County Health Department’s website and their Facebook page.