HANCOCK LEADERSHIPS 2018 class project, a Hidden in Plain Sight trailer, contains a mock youth bedroom. Items in the bedroom seem innocuous, but can serve as hiding places for cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs. (Photo by Brian Szabelski / The Courier)

By SARA ARTHURS
STAFF WRITER

A new resource — demonstrating that drugs are often “Hidden in Plain Sight” — is available to educate local parents and make it easier for them to start a conversation with their children about drugs.

Hancock Leadership this week unveiled its 2018 class project outside the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office. The “Hidden in Plain Sight” trailer features a mock youth bedroom, said Beth Baker, crime prevention officer at the sheriff’s office.

The bedroom is like a game or puzzle, filled with hidden clues — items that seem innocuous on the surface, but can serve as hiding places for cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs.

Crime Prevention Officer Brian White of the Findlay Police Department said he hears from parents, often after their child has gotten into trouble, asking, “How could I have known?” The trailer can provide answers.

Baker said it’s around age 12 or 13 that kids may start using, but “I would start the conversation even earlier.”

Baker said one hope of “Hidden in Plain Sight” is to get parents engaged and empowered. This includes encouraging parents to go through their children’s bedrooms.

Parents are often reluctant to do so, and may want to give their teens privacy as they get older, White said. But addiction and drug use are “tough to combat after the fact,” he said.

Baker said how you connect with your teenager depends on the child, but it all goes back to relationship-building. “Each kid is different,” she said.

Baker also said if you have a child in your life who is affected by an adult’s drug use, be available as someone the child can trust and talk to — and try to get help for that adult. These children are considered at higher risk for drug use.

Baker said she was “very excited” about “Hidden in Plain Sight,” which has already earned “a lot of good feedback.”

Hancock Leadership created committees to acquire the trailer, raise funds, decorate it and market it. Class members also researched what should go into the trailer.

After getting it up and running, the leadership class is handing it off to the sheriff’s office, which will make the display available free of charge for community presentations.

Zach Thomas, a member of the Hancock Leadership 2018 class, is also director of wellness and education for the Hancock County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board.

Thomas said what was most exciting was “the amount of community buy-in and community enthusiasm” for the project.

He said that talking to your child about drugs reduces the risk of first-time use by 50 percent.

Another member of the Hancock Leadership class, Jessica Halsey, said people were often surprised as they toured the trailer.

Pete Matteson, who with his wife is worship director at nearby St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, said the trailer was “eye-opening” and illustrated that teens can be “pretty creative” in finding ways to hide things from their parents.

As the “Hidden in Plain Sight” opening was held this week, a recovery resource fair was set up next door at St. Andrew’s.

Century Health and the Family Resource Center, two nonprofit mental health and substance abuse agencies which are in the process of merging, had a table with information about a “grandparents raising grandchildren” support group, mental health resources for young children, and other programs that can help families.

Hancock Public Health had information on naloxone, the medication that reverses an opiate overdose. Naloxone is available for free at Hancock Public Health. Call 419-424-7441 for more information.

Another table had information on Celebrate Recovery, and the nonprofit recovery center Focus had brochures and information on support groups and recovery.

For more information about “Hidden in Plain Sight,” call 419-424-7253 or visit hancocksheriff.org. The trailer will be at upcoming events, but groups can also contact the sheriff’s office to request that the trailer come to them.

Arthurs: 419-427-8494
Send an E-mail to Sara Arthurs
Twitter: @swarthurs

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