ERIE, Pa. — To parents, picking up on the signs of drug addiction in their teenager’s bedroom might seem daunting.
Corey Eisert-Wlodarczyk wants to help change that.
“I think that the front line dealing with youth in the heroin and opioid crisis is the parents,” said Eisert-Wlodarczyk, 17.
For his Eagle Scout project, Eisert-Wlodarczyk built and decorated the interior of a Hidden in Plain Sight mobile display that looks like a teenager’s bedroom and can be used to show parents common indicators of drug abuse.
Eisert-Wlodarczyk knows the tragic costs of the heroin crisis: he lost his older brother, Collin Eisert-Wlodarczyk, to an accidental heroin overdose in 2012.
“A big part of that for me is just having the ability to use my loss to change the community to benefit others,” he said.
His work on the trailer is aimed at providing as many parents as possible with tools to recognize warning signs of drug addiction, which could be as subtle as a piece of foil or a water bottle with a false bottom. Eisert-Wlodarczyk is a member of Boy Scout Troop 52 in Millcreek Township and is entering his senior year at McDowell High School.
“We had to refurbish all the furniture, build the bed, paint the interior and make sure that everything is going to be secure when the trailer’s being transported,” he said.
The trailer is run by the Lake Erie Youth R.O.A.D. Crew, a group of teenagers from area high schools who commit themselves to a healthy lifestyle. Eisert-Wlodarczyk’s mother, Mary Kay Eisert-Wlodarczyk, advises the group, which has made the mobile trailer available for community events and training through its website, www.leyroadcrew.com.
“You can’t help with what you don’t know about,” Mary Kay Eisert-Wlodarczyk said. “It’s not the same as when we were growing up.”
Previously, the youth group had set up the Hidden in Plain Sight display at locations like the Millcreek Mall, but building a mock-up of a teenager’s bedroom from scratch took several hours. The mobile trailer can be used at more events, and has already been booked for 10 events through October, Mary Kay Eisert-Wlodarczyk said.
The Erie County Department of Health provided state grant funds to pay for the trailer. The Lake Erie Youth R.O.A.D. Crew received $5,000 for the trailer and an additional $875 for the decorations on the outside of the trailer, said Nicole Bolash, the health promotion and quality improvement manager for the county department of health.
“Education is crucial,” Bolash said. “A lot of parents don’t know what to look for, and the Hidden in Plain Sight units give key information and key insight on items that are in teens’ bedrooms … that parents would never know were affiliated with drugs.”
Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com