HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall has partnered with Hampden County District Attorney, Anthony Gulluni and the West Springfield CARE Coalition to bring ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ to the shopping center.
‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ is an interactive exhibit that can help to educate parents on the signs that could potentially indicate substance abuse among their children through a display of a mock teen bedroom. Many of the items are commonly found in some teen bedrooms but could also have a double meaning, and can be used to hide or mask the use of drugs.
“A major element in battling this disease is working collectively in the area of prevention and education,” said Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni. “The Hampden County Addiction Taskforce is proud to partner with all involved in sponsoring this display and working to end the stigma of addiction through constructive discussion and outreach.”
The display will be open during mall hours until Feb. 28, and will be located on the lower level in Sears Court. Holyoke Mall’s General Manager, Bill Rogalski shared, “Given the tragic impact the opioid epidemic is having on our community, we naturally agreed when the West Springfield CARE Coalition approached us to host the event.”
Visitors to the display can pick up a flyer provided by the West Springfield CARE Coalition and tour the exhibit to see which everyday items could have a hidden, double use. The goal of the exhibit is to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic, help prevent drug use, educate parents and youth to recognize the signs of drug use, and help erase the stigma attached to the disease of addiction. In addition to the exhibit, there will be information about resources available for those who need to seek help.
Mercy Behavioral Health Care’s Robert Roose, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Addiction and Recovery Services said of the initiative, “in addition to providing access to high-quality treatment, a comprehensive strategy addressing substance use in our community must have a strong focus on prevention and early intervention.
“Providing education, and real-life scenarios like those in ‘Hidden in Plain Sight,’ which help individuals and families understand addiction and identify when someone is at risk, can be an incredibly valuable tool in this fight and improve countless lives,” he went on. “As a leading provider of substance use disorder treatment in our community, Mercy Behavioral Health is proud to partner with Hampden County District Attorney’s Office and Holyoke Mall at Ingleside to provide this innovative program to engage and educate our community and be a resource to individuals in need of care.”
Other shopping centers around the country have also hosted similar ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ displays, including Hanover Mall and Natick Mall in Massachusetts. The display will be staffed by volunteers from the Hampden County Addiction Taskforce at scheduled times on Saturdays and Sundays through the 28th as well as weekdays during school vacation from Feb. 20-24. For more information on scheduling, visit www.holyokemall.com.