Secrets uncovered

HFM?Prevention Council program helps find drug dangers hidden around a typical teen’s room

This photo shows a room set up for the “High Disguise” program that HFM Prevention Council puts on around the area. The High Disguise Program will be held at the Gloversville Senior Center on Thursday at 6 p.m. (Photo courtesy of HFM Prevention Council)

GLOVERSVILLE — It will look like a typical teenager’s bedroom.

A bed, desk, some laundry and various items any parent would see. But hidden about this room will be a number of items related to drugs, drug paraphernalia, alcohol and drug culture references.

The room is part of HFM Prevention Council’s “High Disguise” program that will be at the Gloversville Senior Center, 53 Church St., on Thursday at 6 p.m. The program is for adults age 21 and older.

Participants will have four minutes to go through the room and write down anything they see that is a concern.

Paul Meher, prevention educator at HFM Prevention Council, said a scenario will be presented that gives the participants a short window to go through the room.

After everyone has had their time in the room, a slide show presentation will be given showing the adults what it is that they missed.

Meher said the presentation also goes over where HFM Prevention Council staff was able to purchase the concerning items in the room. Many of the items come from the local community.

“Not everything in the room is illegal. However, it could be of concern to a parent of a 14-year-old child,” he said.

Meher said the agency updates the items of concern in the room regularly, since there are new ones that come out often.

“We have to constantly educate ourselves as to what is out there as well,” he said.

Meher said the council wants to make parents, grandparents and guardians familiar with what they should be on the lookout for to ensure their child isn’t involved in something they shouldn’t be.

“We want to raise awareness of what is out there, what to be on the lookout for and the various concealment methods,” he said. “We have a lot of things that are hidden in everyday items.”

Meher, Director of the Recovery Center Ginger Cato and fellow prevention educator Alicia King will set up the room in about a half an hour at the senior center, which has opened its doors to the program.

Meher said the idea behind the project came from a training event members of the council attended in Orange County, called “Hidden Mischief”, where they were trained to put the room together.

“They encouraged everyone to change the name and gear it towards our community,” he said. “We were given the ideas of how to set up our own room.”

The High Disguise presentation has been given a variety of location around the tri-county area including: the Amsterdam Senior Center, Fulton County Nurses Conference and recently at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School in Johnstown.

The agency is currently working to give the presentation to every school in the Greater Johnstown School District.

Meher said at Pleasant Avenue, the program was set up for the entire faculty.

Pleasant Avenue Principal Corinne Cotter said that as a former high school principal, she had an idea of what to look for, but many teachers gave excellent feedback onto what they saw.

“The way they set up the bedroom is truly realistic of a teenager’s bedroom. It was eye opening to the staff members of Pleasant Avenue,” she said.

Cotter said the program also opened many educators eyes as to what is available locally.

“That was a huge take away. When they were going over [the finding] and they said ‘we brought this at this place’ [the educators] couldn’t believe how close it was to home,” Cotter said.

After the presentation, teachers gave reflective feedback including: “That drugs and alcohol can be disguised as anything.” “To be more aware of what is happening in schools and at home (what my child may be seeing).” “A lot our students are exposed to at home and to take it into consideration when working with our students.” and “I was amazed at all the things that are out there that can be purchased right here locally.”

Cotter said those who attended the session said they wanted everyone in the district to see this presentation, noting “it was that powerful.”

“Anytime parents and staff members can be informed of what is going on locally, I think that is important,” she said.

Cotter said Meher presentation and education style were a big plus as well.

Meher said that parents or guardians who can’t attend this session, can call HFM Prevention Council at (518) 736-8188 to set up a time to come to another High Disguise event.

“We’re getting booked up pretty quick here,” he said.

Meher said if a parent does find something concerning in their child’s room, they should talk with the child.

“Talk with them about the dangers,” he said. “And of course we are out here to assist with education.”

HFM Prevention Council aims to increase health and wellness in Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery Counties by preventing and reducing addiction disorders through education, recovery supports, supportive housing and community outreach.

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