Youth Task Force shows parents where to look

Jamie Vanderhoop demonstrates an example of where teenagers may be hiding drugs, part of a Hiding in Plain Sight demonstration. — Lily Cowper

Last week, on Oct. 3 and 4, the Island-Wide Youth Collaborative (IWYC) hosted its first “Hiding in Plain Sight” exhibit, presented by the Youth Task Force (YTF). These groups are two subcommittees that partner with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) to help at-risk families in terms of substance abuse or other behavioral issues. While the youth collaborative often deals directly with youth and case management, the task force was formed with the purpose of educating parents about drug and alcohol prevention, and primarily works with parents rather than children.

“Hiding in Plain Sight,” according to a press release, is a program introduced by the South Shore Hospital in Boston, brought to Martha’s Vineyard by the task force. This involves a staged set, made to look like an average teenager’s bedroom, which attendees are asked to look through. Over 100 items are in the room, and among those lie hidden pills, alcohol, and other dangerous items. They are cleverly hidden in household objects, such as a gym bag, which opens to reveal a tennis ball container. One of the tennis balls itself is cut open, and through the slit two small white pills are revealed. There were many more ordinary objects acting as safes, which teenagers either make themselves or purchase online. The event was open only to ages 21 and up, so as not to give youth ideas on where to hide their drugs, according to task force coordinators.

“This is a great educational resource that we took the opportunity to bring to Martha’s Vineyard,” said Jamie Vanderhoop, a coordinator at the task force. The exhibit is often seen off-Island in shopping malls, and this was a chance to make it accessible for the Vineyard, where the need is just as great, according to Mrs. Vanderhoop. “It’s not about invasion of privacy,” she said, noting it is rather meant to empower parents to check up on their kids, and open the door for a conversation.

For more information visit