SAFE DE­CI­SIONS

Teen Maze con­tin­ues work to in­still smart choices

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

The path through life is de­ter­mined al­ways by the choices one makes, and the con­se­quences that flow out­ward from them.

A lo­cal teen gets bored and cu­ri­ous with their par­ents out for the night, and friends off on a trip for school over the week­end. They’ve been tex­ting back and forth with peo­ple who are busy on dates or al­ready off to the movies.

One thing leads to an­other, and be­fore they know it they’ve wan­dered into their par­ents bath­room, and opened up the medicine cab­i­net. ‘What’s Hy­drocodone used to treat?’ Doesn’t mat­ter. They’ve al­ready swal­lowed it down.

It’s dark, but since there’s not much else to do it seems like a good idea to go driv­ing around. Mom’s car is in the garage, and a learner’s per­mit is al­most a li­cense, right?

Just imag­ine what hap­pens next as they cruise down the road with­out a seat­belt on, driv­ing il­le­gally and hav­ing taken a painkiller. The teenager doesn’t pay full enough at­ten­tion and looks down to skip a song on their phone they don’t like. All the sud­den they’ve swerved into the other lane and crashed head on into a fam­ily of four.

The above tragic ex­am­ple is what an or­ga­ni­za­tion like Polk Fam­ily Con­nec­tion hopes to pre­vent in the fu­ture, and with the help of sev­eral groups it’s a point they hope to drive home dur­ing the an­nual Teen Maze.

Ninth graders from the Polk School Dis­trict and area schools gath­ered at Camp An­ti­och this past week for the lat­est round of the event that presents them with a va­ri­ety of sce­nar­ios of life, and how to avoid them.

Stu­dents donned sim­u­lated im­pair­ment gog­gles and drove a golf cart around the front lawn of the camp to act as a re­minder of how hard it is to drive while drunk or on drugs. Only a few steps away, a roll over sim­u­la­tor brought by the Gover­nor’s Of­fice of High­way Safety’s re­gional part­ners at Polk County Po­lice Depart­ment served as a stark ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when stu­dents don’t wear their seat belts.

One of the hard­est ex­am­ples of the Teen Maze is the sim­u­la­tion of a fa­tal car wreck in the back yard of Camp An­ti­och, and then hav­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence what it’s like be­ing in the emer­gency room and watch­ing some­one die, or hav­ing to go to jail as a con­se­quence.

Even an empty cas­ket with a mir­ror sits as phys­i­cal proof of what can hap­pen when wrong choices are made.

The an­nual day is put on by Polk Fam­ily Con­nec­tions and or­ga­nized through the ef­forts of Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Rhonda Heuer. She re­ceives help from staff along with hun­dreds of vol­un­teers from lo­cal law en­force­ment, fire de­part­ments, Red­mond and Floyd EMS per­son­nel, Ge­or­gia High­lands Col­lege nurs­ing in­struc­tors and or­ga­ni­za­tions who came to talk about teen preg­nancy, STDs and mak­ing other healthy choices.

Polk Fam­ily Con­nec­tion’s goal is to get stu­dents to pay at­ten­tion to what they see and hear from those who have al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced the worst cir­cum­stances as first re­spon­ders to all kinds of in­ci­dents.

Be­cause the goal is to keep teens from mak­ing bad choices at crit­i­cal times in their lives, and to en­sure they think about the con­se­quences be­fore they are let loose in the world in the fu­ture.

/ Kevin Myrick

Stu­dents could spin the wheel of STDs and get more in­for­ma­tion about one of the costs of un­pro­tected in­ter­course dur­ing the 2018 Teen Maze at Camp An­ti­och on Nov. 7.

Kevin Myrick /

Stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tors alike talked about the costs of teen preg­nancy dur­ing the 2018 Teen Maze at Camp An­ti­och.

/ Kevin Myrick

Above: Stu­dents donned drunk gog­gles and tried their hand at driv­ing a golf cart through a windy, short course. All strug­gled to stay on the right path, and avoid run­ning over cones. Be­low: The chaos of an emer­gency room while try­ing to save a pa­tient was sim­u­lated by real nurses giv­ing stu­dents a taste of the cost of a car ac­ci­dent caused by drunk driv­ing.

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