Local Teen Maze helps students make right decisions
An estimated 600 ninth graders participated in Teen Maze at Polk / Haralson Christian Life Center (Camp Antioch).
The event was set up as an interactive “Game of Life” to give students opportunity to face consequences of randomly selected life-style choices associated with risky youth behaviors. Students could examine the decisions they make in a hands-on, realistic and educational way.
They navigated through a maze that presented different scenarios and related consequences. The goal to increase their understanding of personal responsibility and the importance of making positive life choices is considered a success, according to organizers.
The event was designed to get students to graduation with a focus on education. Along the path in the Teen Maze, students were presented information by professionals on the subjects of alcohol, drugs, sexual activity, pregnancy, child care, career selection and a job search, just to name a few.
Two experiences that seemed to make the greatest impact was the reality of a jail experience and wrong choices such as drinking and driving or sexual activity could actually lead to death.
“It is a weird feeling to know that you are dead,” said a young woman with flowing dark hair. “I don’t want to think about looking into a mirror in that coffin and seeing myself.”
She referenced the space where an actual funeral service was conducted. Participants could sit and hear a sermon by a volunteer (Sherman Ross) who portrayed a minister. Other volunteers, including David Curby of Freeman Harris Funeral Home in Rockmart, added to the somber occasion.
“You are here today to remind you that your decisions affect not only your health but those you leave behind,” Ross said during his message to the teens.
Several non- smoking students expressed concern about their parents who have not kicked the habit. They were given information during a stop where Gina Brown, volunteer, was encouraging them to share what they had learned with parents and other family members.
A lighter mood existed in the area where teens, including male students, were introduced to the reality of pregnancy and babies.
One youth agreed to be “suited” with a garment that would help him understand what it would be like for a young woman to carry a child.
He laughed as he became the center of attention when Debra Helms and other volunteers talked with him about making right decisions.
Rhonda Heuer, Polk Family Connection, said she was pleased with the success of the 2014 Teen Maze. “This is a wonderful site to hold this event,” she said. “We will definitely plan another in 2015.”
Teen Maze is community- sponsored and is made possible through the commitment and partnerships of local businesses, agencies, organizations, churches and civic groups.
Planning and presentation includes about 200 volunteers. These individuals set up, take down, lunch and hospitality room, car crash scene, drunk driving course, funeral home, pregnancy clinic, alcohol and drug rehab cen- ter, taking photos, graduation and jail and others. Training is provided prior to the event.
Volunteer Debra Helms, right, helps fit youth into a garment designed to help him understand pregnancy.
Gina Brown, volunteer, talks to teens about how tobacco and smoking can become a health hazard.
Several teens sit at their funeral and listen to volunteer Sherman Ross give a message about how their decisions affect loved ones.