HERO Trailer Comes To NCHS On Registration Day

Trailer Has Mock Up Of Teen Bedroom, Organization Seeks To Show Parents Warning Signs Of Drug Abuse

The “Hidden In Plain Sight” trailer, ABOVE, from HERO (Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization) was parked at NCHS during registration day, August 8, 2017.

By Alex Haglund

There are bags on the desk – one is (made to look like) marijuana.

Another one has pink rocks that look like snow melter, and a third has tiny colored pieces in it that look like crushed up candy.

“That’s ‘wakka’,” says Jan Dombrowski of HERO, the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization, who is conducting a tour of the large blue “Hidden In Plain Sight” trailer, which was parked in front of Nashville Community High School on Tuesday, August 8, registration day for the upcoming school year.

Dombrowski said that last week, a man in Chicago got high on ‘wakka’, cut himself in a very sensitive area, then was wandering the streets, bleeding, when the police caught up with him. “They TASEd him three times. He pulled the barbs out,” Dombrowski said.

A mocked-up teenager’s bedroom was on display inside the trailer, complete with signs, both overt and covert, of drug abuse, like drugs on the desk.

“Sometimes, teens pack it into ‘Jolly Rancher’ wrappers,” she says, gesturing to a bag of the candy on the other side of the desk from the drugs.

The trailer Dombrowski is giving the tour of is set up as a mock up of a teen’s bedroom. It’s made to show parents possible warning signs of drug abuse or of mental illness or distress, as well as the hiding places a drug abusing teen might use.

Some of the signs, the bags of drugs on the table for instance, or a burnt spoon with heroin in it, are pretty obvious.

Other hiding spaces are not. Dombrowski says that as users fall further and further into addiction, they will get more paranoid and will in turn, keep their drugs more close to them – on their clothing. Collar stays on a button up shirt might get swapped out for a card folded around a satchet of heroin or cocaine. The tongue of a shoe might have a tiny hole made under its label where other drugs or pills could be stashed.

The list goes on and on: magnetic hide-a-keys, hollowed out books, stash spots behind picture frames, or hanging off of a light switch plate on a string into the wall.

The warning signs could be journal entries showing a person is distressed or depressed, memorials to the loss of a friend or loved one, even poetry and art showing themes of loss, depression, distress or drug or alcohol related imagery.

Signs on the wall give parents tips and point them to hiding places.

The trailer, overall, is a bit overwhelming. It’s not to say that one teens room would exhibit all of the signs – instead, the trailer endeavors to show all of the different hiding places and signs that could be in a teen’s room.

The trailer would be parked in front of NCHS all day and parents (no one under 18 is allowed on – probably to avoid giving them strategies or ideas for hiding items from their parents) can take tours of it when they come in for registration.

Additionally, Dombrowski and others with HERO would be present for a Question-and-Answer/Panel Discussion to be held in the NCHS Cafeteria at 8 p.m. on the evening of

Registration Day (regrettably, after the production deadline for this issue of The Nashville News).

HERO is based out of Will County, in northern Illinois (near Joliet). Dombrowski and the other volunteers made the drive down to bring the trailer to NCHS. HERO works with the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, the New Lenox Police Department and the Lincolnway Christian Church to make the trailer available.

HERO offers other services as well, including Family Support and Grief Support. For more information on HERO, these programs, and on the trailer, please contact them by phone at (708) 557-8394, or head to their website at theherofoundation.org, or their Facebook site at facebook.com/beaherotoo