Interactive Program For Parents Offered

POCOMOKE – Health officials in Worcester County will host an interactive event this weekend that will teach parents to spot signs of risky behavior in teens.

On Saturday, the Worcester County Health Department will hold a free event, entitled “Hidden in Plain Sight,” for parents and caregivers at the Pocomoke YMCA.

The event will take participants on a tour of a simulated teenager’s bedroom, where they will be tasked with finding both noticeable and hidden signs of alcohol and drug abuse and mental health issues.

Kat Gunby, director of prevention services at the Worcester County Health Department, said this will be the second interactive event held in Worcester County. Atlantic General Hospital’s Health Happenings Committee hosted the first event at Worcester Technical High School earlier this year.

“Though it was a small turnout, the dialogue was so powerful and insightful,” she said. “The people who come to this learn a lot about how they should engage with teenagers living under their roof and prevent problems before they escalate.”

Gunby said the health department typically hosts after-school and family night programs that engage the community and address risky behaviors. She said the Hidden in Plain Sight event will replace a planned family night event.

Gunby explained parents and caregivers will enter the room in groups and will have time to search for clues of drug and alcohol abuse or mental health issues.

The activity will be followed by a debriefing, where participants will learn about the latest substance use trends, signs of addiction and symptoms of mental health issues. The Hidden in Plain Sight program will also include information on local recovery and counseling resources and strategies that bring awareness to the community.

“Hidden in Plain Sight is a great opportunity for parents to take part in an exercise that teaches valuable skills spotting risky behavior that might appear harmless at first glance,” Gunby said.

In addition to the event, the health department will hold a gingerbread making contest and other activities in a separate room for youth.

The event will take place at the Pocomoke YMCA on Dec. 9 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free transportation will be provided from Berlin Intermediate School (BIS) and Snow Hill Middle School (SHMS). Participants can be picked up from BIS at 9 a.m. or SHMS at 9:30 a.m.

A light lunch will be provided at the YMCA. For more information, or to pre-register, call the Worcester County Health Department at 410-632-0056.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.