Moultrie Observer


October 1, 2012

200-plus volunteers to present Teen Maze

MOULTRIE — About 225 people -- professionals and laymen alike -- are poised to deliver Colquitt County's first Teen Maze to some 675 freshmen at Gray Junior High School later this week. Organizers said theyhad thought their initial request of 200 volunteers as too ambitious and now are thrilled with the overwhelming response.

"It has been exciting to see our community come together for the education of our youth, from our sponsors to the partnering organizations. It has really been a community effort to make this happen," said Teen Maze Chairman Erica Stallings Monday.

Teen Maze -- a sort of  life-size "Game of Life" -- is a project of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce Workforce Development Committee.

"The Maze promotes positive decision making, how to weigh the consequences, and when life puts up a road block, you may take a detour, but there are resources and choices that can help you get back on the road to success," Stallings said. "We hope the teens will connect the dots that the decisions they make today affect their future as adults."

Wednesday, Gray's gymnasium will transform into a maze of  interactive exhibits. Teens reach into a bucket at each station and draw out a piece of paper outlining a real-life scenario. Trained volunteers interact with the teens as well as provide them with local and state resources. Students will have about an hour to go through the maze. There are hundreds of options, and no student's experience will be the same.

One teen might have to pull on a heavy empathy belly and learn from health professionals about the three trimestersof pregnancy illustrated with fetus models. They are given realistic baby dolls for diapering and feeding and learn what's needed to be a good parent of an infant. Another might contract one or several sexually transmitted diseases.

Volunteers will teach that sex equals risk and provide information on symptoms and treatment options. Particular emphasis in the Maze is given to encouraging abstinence as well as respect for others and especially oneself.

Others might be escorted to jail for DUI or date violence where officers will fingerprint them and line them up for mug shots before locking them into a holding pen.

Prosecutors will then take them through conviction and sentencing. Another might be struggling from depression after an onslaught of bullying from peers. At the mental health station, students will learn where to reach out for help.

At the finance station, students talk with bank professionals about how to set up an account or take out a loan for college or to simply pay hospital bills after a car crash.  At all stations, trained volunteers and professionals are prepared to field any questions students might have. There is also a debriefing station where counselors will talk to each student to gauge response.

Monetary donations have poured in from the community, organizers said, and many local organizations and businesses are allowing professionals in  healthcare, social services,

law enforcement, mental health, banking and education to participate in the two-day event. In addition, a significant number of Moultrie Technical College students will be volunteering as well as a group of students from Valdosta State University.


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