Moultrie Observer

Local News

October 7, 2013

Teen Maze shows students the results of choices — both good and bad

MOULTRIE — “Well first thing, I got to celebrate, because I didn’t have sex. Then I died of a drug overdose. Then I had to go to diseases and stuff, and I got Hepatitis B. Then I got to go to that alcohol person and talk to them, and now I’m about to graduate,” said C.A. Gray Junior High School student Haley Kennedy, 15, at last week’s second annual Teen Maze.

Kennedy was recounting true-to-life scenarios she randomly drew while coursing through the maze of interactive, educational stations that took up Gray’s entire gym and then some. About 270 volunteers took time from their professional and personal lives to give a healthy amount of one-on-one attention to nearly 650 ninth graders during the two-day event. Most of the scenarios presented are challenging, and that’s the point.

“I think it’s gotten kids to look at some issues and scenarios that they wouldn’t otherwise look at. They may think that because of their families, they’re isolated from some of these consequences, but they’re actually not. They could reach anybody and everybody. It gets them to think beyond their comfort zone,” said Teen Maze Chairman Katrina Bivins, also director of Hope House.

“I volunteered for this because I love the heart of Teen Maze. It’s showing kids how valuable they are. It’s teaching kids that what they do today affects their tomorrow, and it educates them to have the best future they can have,” she said.

This group of students were more serious and “more invested” than last year’s first effort, Bivins said.

Fifteen-year-old Jake Nichols said going through the Maze has opened his eyes a bit to possible consequences of bad choices.

“I got an STD, went to graduation, did some drinking, got in trouble for my drinking, went to a gang, and now I’m here,” Nichols said from the jail holding cell (a.k.a. dog pen).

Most of the students ending up in the Jail Station pulled scenarios involving alcohol offenses, said Assistant District Attorney Brian McDaniel, volunteer for the maze, and that’s reflective of the trouble in which many local teens too often find themselves. It’s part of the reason the district attorney’s office participates.

“Our office has always participated in Teen Maze. It’s an opportunity to point out to some people how much trouble they could get in sometimes, even at a young age,” said McDaniel, who for the maze is playing judge in the Court Station.

“Most of them have taken it serious. It’s meant to be a little bit of fun, you know, but most of them have taken it seriously,” he said.

Volunteer Kelly Goff, a registered obstetric nurse with Colquitt Regional Medical Center, was one of many to man the largest, most involved exhibit at the maze, the Pregnancy Station.

“We teach the kids about what they could go through during pregnancy — being pregnant, what they go through at delivery hopefully to discourage them from doing that at such a young age,” Goff said. “We make them smell rotten cheese to kind of show them what it feels like to be nauseated. A lot go through that when they’re first pregnant and then on the second trimester, we make them wear the pregnancy belt with the heavy weight showing them how heavy you feel during pregnancy, how tiring it can be.”

For the third trimester, the volunteers show them some of the things that could go wrong in pregnancy and what to expect during delivery. They do the same education for all students who come through their station, Goff said.

“We do the same thing for the girls and the boys to show the boys what that girl has to go through,” she said.

Student Griffin Simmons, wearing a graduation hat and holding a babydoll, was one of the students who had to pull on a heavy empathy belly.

“It sucks,” he said. “I had to get a loan, had to get a job working at Ameris Bank and I went to jail for underage possession of alcohol,” he said, adding that the jail scenario wasn’t fun but the overall experience of Teen Maze wasn’t too impactful other than the scenario of him as a young dad. “I’m not going to have a child… And apparently I don’t hold it right.”

Tamera Edwards, 17, a student volunteer from Colquitt County High School, assisted at the Graduation Station.

“We put them on a cap and gown, give them a diploma, and basically let them go out and set their goals in life. They’ll roll the dice in the next station and whatever the dice number is they’ll go either to the STD (station), pregnancy, or they might go to college… whatever you pick,” she said.

 “It’s very important for kids to get their education. I see ninth grade as a hard year basically. It’s probably the time where students most want to be on their own, drop out, do whatever, and I think this is a good way to encourage them to move forward in life,” Edwards said.

Haley Martinez, 14, went through the STD Station, the Hospital Station, and Drugs and Alcohol Station. The most impact Martinez experienced was frank, clinical descriptions and photos of STDs delivered to the students by medical doctors and health professionals.

“I learned a lot about the things you can get and their effect on you,” she said.    

This year’s Teen Maze was sponsored by the Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce, Hope House pregnancy care center, Colquitt Regional Medical Center, United Way of Moultrie-Colquitt County, Funston Gin, Bud K, Destiny Industries, Mattco Realtors, Moultrie Y and many other agencies, organizations and businesses.

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