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Building association lends house for simulated adolescent party

by Scott Neuffer
Staff Writer

The Douglas County Building Industry Association is lending one if its houses to a group of teenagers on Nov. 21 in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of teen parties.

Each year, DCBIA members build a house to use for community projects and to sell to raise funds for their organization. This year’s house in Ruhenstroth became the perfect place to host a mock teen party.

“The members of our organization all have families and kids or grandkids,” said DCBIA Executive Director Carole Thompson, also a concerned grandmother. “I have realized how much I don’t know. [Teen parties] are more visible now than ever.”

The organization teamed up with the Partnership of Community Resources, whose Students Taking On Prevention will be acting out the roles of risky teenagers.

Parents and interested adults are invited to attend the faux party to watch the students dramatize different scenarios, including binge drinking, drug use and date rape.

“They’ll walk through the house like they’re invisible and will see how kids are exposed to a detrimental environment,” said Thompson. “The peer pressure is always the same. The kids want to fit in. Some will be exposed to the situation for the first time, and we want them to know what could happen.”

Partnership Prevention Coordinator Amanda Johnson said she got the idea for the teen party from a similar event staged in Lyon County.

“The coalition in Lyon County was gracious enough to let us use their idea,” she said.

Johnson said parents will be split into small groups, and each group will be given a tour of the house.

“We want to show parents what happens when teen parties get out of control,” she said. “These will be worst-case scenarios. They are likely to happen at teen parties, but they probably wouldn’t all happen at once.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will also be participating in the event, showing up at the end of each tour as if responding to a routine noise disturbance. Officers will be demonstrating their controlled party dispersal technique.

Johnson said parents will be debriefed after the tour and will have the chance to talk to counselors and law enforcement officers. There will also be tables set up from different agencies with information that parents can take home.

“We are hoping to bring these issues to light to spark conversation between parents and teens,” Johnson said. “We are very thankful to the DCBIA for lending us their house.”

Thompson said the DCBIA will be working with the partnership throughout 2009 on several community projects, focusing on lifestyle and health and other issues facing families.

“It’s the perfect partnership,” Thompson said. “Builders are very involved in the community. [These projects] will give us the opportunity to play a significant role in education.”