Teen Maze pushes good choices for middle school studentsPublished 11:07am Monday, October 28, 2013
Thursday hundreds of middle school students were taken to a party with drinking, thrown into jail. Some got pregnant; others graduated and went to college, while a few contracted STDs.
But this was all in a make-believe environment where students, who got permission from their parents, entered into Teen Maze — a course designed by Decatur County Family Connection that takes students through a walking game of “Life.”
Upon entering volunteers from the Sheriff’s Department take some students to jail after a party scenario. The students are informed of the dangers of drinking and what a jail stay entails.
Following, they roll dice to move to other booths where they are educated on the result of bad choices. They speak to nurses about depression, STDs, safe sex, pregnancy, drinking and the importance of careers.
“We are actually being looked at from other counties and other organizations for the Teen Maze we have created,” Ronnie Burke, director of Decatur County Family Connection said.
The maze was constructed by volunteers from Home Depot and more than 80 volunteers worked the event in total — something Burke is proud of Decatur County for.
“I know of other places that would do this but are shocked at how many volunteers we have here and say they cant come up with that many,” Burke said.
The overall event is an attempt, Burke said, to at least change one life.
High school students do not normally attend, but instead the middle school group is the focus of the program. This is because Burke and others feel high school students have already made up their mind and created their friend groups. Those in middle school have not yet fully decided who they will be, Burke said, and they can still learn about good and bad choices.
“We have a lot of kids that come through here, but if we have one student from every session, and there are four sessions, that have a light bulb come on, or something clicks — then it was all worth it,” Burke said. “We are just here to help them learn about good decisions at the end of the day.”
At the end of the maze students give an evaluation of their experience and talk about what they learned. They then talk with a volunteer about decision making.
Some are told that they may never be in these situations presented to them in Teen Maze — but they should always be aware of how one bad decision can change their entire lives.