Parents interested in learning more about youth substance abuse are welcome to participate in an interactive, hands-on learning experience during athletes’ night at Stoughton High School.

The Stoughton Wellness Coalition will host the “Hidden in Plain Sight” event at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 5 at Stoughton High School, 600 Lincoln Ave. Open to the public, Hidden in Plain Sight is a mobile, interactive and educational exhibit where parents can get explanations on various substance abuse trends.

This is the second year the Stoughton Wellness Coalition, in partnership with the volunteer EMS group, has set up the room during athletes’ night. Last year more than 100 parents participated.

Set up like a bedroom, parents can walk through the exhibit and try to identify the 48 paraphernalia items. The items are disguised as things children would normally have in their room, but often have hidden compartments to store drugs.

This can include a teddy bear, a Coke bottle or permanent marker, SWC director Teressa Pellett said.

“The first time I did it, these items never occurred to me,” Pellett said. “I couldn’t find anything.”

The event is meant for concerned parents, but Pellet emphasized this activity is not a scare tactic or a “gotcha” event, but rather a way for parents to be informed about drug and substance abuse.

“We are not inviting parents to dig through their kids’ room,” said Pellett. “We want this to be based on trust and safety. We need children to be able to come to their parents with problems.”

There are volunteers available to guide parents through the room and discuss potential signs of teens abusing drugs or alcohol. Pellett said she hopes this event provides useful resources to the community beyond substance abuse.

“Mental health weaves a lot into substance abuse,” she said. “They often overlap and frequently co-occur.”

Pellett said although the coalition cannot tell people how to parent, there are some helpful tips if parents find paraphernalia. Most importantly, said Pellet, is to stay calm, get the items out of the house and talk about legality.

Focusing their efforts on alcohol, prescription medication and now vaping, the Stoughton Wellness Coalition strives to promote healthy lifestyles choices and reduce youth substance abuse, according to its website.

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