It's a display that could save a life. And with drug and alcohol abuse taking hundreds of lives in the St. Louis area every year, it's a display every parent should see. It's called Hidden in Plain View. Organizers and visitors alike call it eye-opening.
“I was completely mind-blown,” said Katie Gaehle, who walked through the mock bedroom exhibit Sunday afternoon during a health and safety fair at Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton.
“This bedroom has over 70 items in it that should alert a parent to the fact that their child is involved in drug or alcohol abuse,” said organizer Kelly Prunty, Vice President of Addiction is Real, an anti-drug group focused on educating parents and their children on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
Some signs are obvious, like alcohol hidden in a jacket pocket. But some are much more secretive, looking like everyday items that belong in a teenager's room.
Prunty walked a Five on Your Side reporter through the display, pointing out some of the items people least expect to be red flags.
“On this bookshelf alone there are probably 20 items,” said Prunty. “For instance, all of these cans, the tea, Red Bull, soda. These are all stash cans used to hide things.”
“There's a slit that's been cut in this flip-flop. So, somebody can literally walk out of their room with pills in their shoes.”
“A tealight candle on its own doesn't necessarily mean that your child is using drugs, so all this needs to be taken in context. But, the tealight candle holders are one of the most popular ways kids are cooking heroin these days.”
Visitors are challenged to find as many of the items as they can. They’re given a clipboard to write down the things they find and are then shown the answer key.
Katie Gaehle took the challenge and was surprised when she learned her score.
“I only got like 23,” said Gaehle. “I thought I was doing good and then when I actually counted it down I realized I didn't do very good at all.”
Organizers say everyone who goes through the exhibit learns something. Gaehle was no exception.
“Letting your kids know that you can talk to them and communicate with them and it can be an open conversation,” said Gaehle”
“Research shows that kids who talk to their parents about the dangers of drugs are 50-percent less likely to use drugs,” said Prunty. “So, parents can have a huge impact on the choices their kids make.”
The Addiction is Real Group will bring the bedroom display to your next event for no charge. Click here if you're interested in learning more.