South Washington County Schools

The Top Secret Project comes to South Washington County Schools April 26

On Wednesday, April 26, parents are invited to Park High School to tour and hear about “The Top Secret Project,” a traveling exhibit designed to help parents and professionals who work with youth recognize potential warning signs.

“Our motivation for launching this project was to encourage parents to take a closer look at their teenagers’ rooms. Often times, signs of danger are in plain sight, but if we don’t know what to look for, we can’t help our kids safely navigate the teen years,” said Cendee Palmer, Outreach Manager for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “Parents will be enlightened by what they learn through this program and will also walk away with important resources to help them not only learn about various issues, but they’ll also learn what they can do to prevent and take action,” Palmer added.

By exploring a makeshift teen's bedroom, participants learn to identify objects that could provide critical insights about potentially risky behavior. Amidst the clutter of clothing scattered on the floor, school supplies on a desk and personal care products on a vanity, there are more than 150 items that can actually be signals that a young person could be involved in risky, harmful or even illegal activity. Following a walk through the exhibit, a presentation provides participants with insights into some of the items in the room and identifies how each can signal a warning about alcohol or other drug use, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, bullying, criminal or gang activity and other mental health concerns. And what attendees don’t get from the presentation, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has created a web site, TopSecretProject.org, with resources related to prevention, early intervention, drug trends, mental health resources and much more.

“Because risky behaviors can become part of a student’s world at any time, we are happy to host this important parent opportunity,” said Park High School Principal Ginger Garski. “We believe it is important for parents to be aware of what may be unknown concerns.”

The exhibit will be open at Park High School from 6:15 to 7 p.m., with a 90-minute presentation following from 7-8:30 p.m.

Bob Sherman, Executive Director of Youth Service Bureau, stated, “YSB is pleased to help bring the Top Secret Project to South Washington County Schools. Alcohol and drug use, eating disorders, bullying and mental health concerns among young people are rising in communities across our area. The more we can do to educate parents and families about warning signs of risky and harmful behavior in kids, the sooner we can all help them find healthy solutions to the challenges of growing up.”

The event is available at no cost and is for adults only. Please contact Jonathan Hunt, Park High School’s Assistant Principal at 651-425-3708 or jhunt02@sowashco.org.

The Top Secret Project is an educational resource made possible thanks to support from the MAARCH; Independent School District 197; Partners in Prevention; Partnership for Change Coalition; Minnesota Crime Prevention Association; Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; Minnesota Department of Public Safety; East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force of Chisago County; and Hennepin County Sheriff's Department.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 17 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery. Learn more at www.HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter @hazldnbettyford.

About Youth Service Bureau, Inc.

Youth Service Bureau helps youth and families learn the skills they need to be more successful at home, in school and throughout the community. Programs include youth-focused family counseling, diversion services, chemical health support and family education. Learn more by calling one of our three locations or visiting ysb.net.