This could be You

9th graders taught valu­able “Game of Life” lessons

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - From Staff Re­ports

The “Game of Life” be­came re­al­ity for 9th graders in Polk School Dis­trict as they were guided through an in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence at Polk/Har­al­son Chris­tian Life Cen­ter (Camp An­ti­och), lo­cated at 3900 An­ti­och Road, Cedar­town.

Stu­dents were trans­ported by bus to the site from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wed­nes­day, Nov. 4-5. They were given op­por­tu­nity to learn how to face con­se­quences of ran­domly se­lected life­style choices as­so­ci­ated with risky youth be­hav­iors in a safe and con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment. In­di­vid­u­als could ex­am­ine the de­ci­sions they make in a hands-on, re­al­is­tic and ed­u­ca­tional way.

More than 200 volun- teers helped each in­di­vid­ual through a maze that pre­sented dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios and re­lated con­se­quences. The goal of or­ga­niz­ers was to in­crease each par­tic­i­pant’s un­der­stand­ing of per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity and the im­por­tance of mak­ing pos­i­tive life choices.

Dur­ing the 2015 Teen Maze, stu­dents were pre­sented in­for­ma­tion by pro­fes­sion­als on the sub­jects of tobacco, al­co­hol, drugs, sex­ual ac­tiv­ity, preg­nancy, child care, ca­reer se­lec­tion and a job search, just to name a few.

Ber­nice Vasquez, pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor of North­west Georgia Re­gional Can­cer coali­tion, wel­comed youth to a place of ed­u­ca­tion about how de­ci­sions re­gard­ing tobacco and re­lated prod­ucts could be­come a health hazard.

“They could see how a teen choice can im­pact health and the fact that a life al­ter­ing dis­ease could be pre­vented,” she said.

One stu­dent read­ing ma­te­rial about can­cer noted, “I won’t be smok­ing if this is what I could face.”

Jen­nifer Lipham and Cather­ine Casey, vol­un­teers, showed Drew Spencer and Cameron In­gle, Rock­mart High School, how to care for ba­bies. The stu­dents seemed sur­prised when they learned the time and care in­volved in pro­vid­ing ba­sic in­fant needs.

“This has been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me,” Spencer said.

Mean­while, other stu­dents were seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about col­lege and what de­ci­sions they will make be­fore and af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

Makayla Wil­son and Avery Hitchock talked with Tommy Baker, GED in­struc­tor at Georgia North­west­ern Tech­ni­cal Col­lege, and Mar­quita De­orsey, GNTC Stu­dent Af­fairs As­sis­tant.

Baker said it was his first time to take part in the an­nual Teen Maze and he hopes to be in­volved in the one next year. “I have seen gen­uine in­ter­est from stu­dents about their fu­ture ed­u­ca­tional choices,” he said.

Con­ver­sa­tions were in­ter­rupted by sounds of an­guish as a group of vol­un­teers rushed from a mock ex­pe­ri­ence (car crash with in­juries) to an emer­gency room.

An adult was be­ing held back from the ac­tive scene where a youth lay. Sec­ond year nurs­ing stu­dents from Georgia High­land Col­lege asked the crowd to move back so they could try to save the ac­ci­dent vic­tim.

The look on the faces of the stu­dents gave ev­i­dence they were caught up in the mo­ment of learn­ing and the fact this could hap­pen to him or her if they were in­jured in a car crash.

“We want ev­ery­one to re­al­ize that an ac­ci­dent isn’t some­thing that is only dra­ma­tized on a tele­vi­sion show,” said one vol­un­teer.

To as­sist with the re­al­ity were vol­un­teers from Red­mond: Marty Robin­son, Frank Matthews, and Heather Penno.

Stu­dents were re­minded that driv­ing with any dis­trac­tion could be deadly. Par­tic­i­pants were en­cour­aged to think about the peo­ple “you ride with . . . it could be your last one.”

In­for­ma­tion pro­vided re­vealed warn­ing signs that peers could be us­ing drugs: Not car­ing about ap­pear­ance, drop­ping grades, missed classes, los­ing in­ter­est in fa­vorite ac­tiv­i­ties, dif­fer­ent sleep­ing or eat­ing habits, more prob­lems with fam­ily and friends.

Each stu­dent com- plet­ing the 2015 Teen Maze was pre­sented a diploma. When Greg Teems made the pre­sen­ta­tion to Canaan Smith, she smiled and said it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

Polk Fam­ily Con­nec­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tive part­ners pre­sented the event.

Rhonda Heuer, Polk Fam­ily Con­nec­tion, said the goal of the event is that the teens re­al­ize that de­ci­sions they make now could end up with them be­ing par­ents, hav­ing a life-long STD, los­ing their life or be­ing in­stru­men­tal in some­one else los­ing their life.

“Many neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences can be pre­vented by mak­ing wise choices,” she said.

Marty Robin­son, Red­mond, was a vol­un­teer dur­ing the 2015 Teen Maze. He views ve­hi­cles dam­aged in a ‘crash scene’ de­signed to teach stu­dents the dan­gers of dis­trac­tions like tex­ting or talk­ing on the phone while driv­ing.

Pho­tos by Agnes Ha­gin

Nurs­ing stu­dents from Georgia High­land Col­lege, vol­un­teers, worked to save the life of a youth in­jured in a mock au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dent.

Pho­tos by Agnes Ha­gin

Each stu­dent com­plet­ing the 2015 Teen Maze was pre­sented a diploma. Greg Teems made the pre­sen­ta­tion to Canaan Smith, who said the event was a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

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