MOULTRIE, Ga. — The ninth graders of C.A. Gray Junior High School got a firsthand look at the choices and consequences that lie ahead of them in life when they visited the Teen Maze Thursday.
Stationed in the junior high school’s gym, Teen Maze took the teenagers on a journey through snapshots of life choices and the consequences that they bring such as teen pregnancy and drinking-and-driving.
Bryce River’s class was corralled into a makeshift Colquitt County Jail when they entered the gymnasium, where a police officer took their “mugshots” one by one and sent them off to the “court” around the corner.
Among the stations in the Maze were Parenting, Graduation and Adoption Agency, each one meant to show an aspect of the lifestyle choice they represent. In the pregnancy station, boys could wear an Empathy Belly to see what it was like to be in the third trimester of a pregnancy, and in the Mothers Against Drinking and Driving (MADD) tent outdoors, students could see the aftermath of a DUI by investigating two crashed cars that had been in wrecks due to driving under the influence. One of the cars even had a liquor bottle still in it.
“We want them to make healthy lifestyle choices,” said Katrina Bivins, executive director of Hope House and chairwoman of the steering committee for Teen Maze. “We have to educate them about the choices they make and how they affect their future and the people around them.”
While the focus is on all aspects of teenage life — including proper use and the dangers of misusing social media — this year, the STD Station seemed to be one of the most important stations, according to Bivins. Georgia has been ranked as one of the top 10 states that harbors the most sexually transmitted diseases.
“We talk to them about STDs,” said Bivins. “That’s a big one. According to the Center for Disease Control, Georgia has the highest rate of new HIV cases. In all of the United States, out of kids aged 15 to 25, one in two will have an STD. There’s 19 million that are diagnosed in the United States and Georgia is one of the top 10 states that has the top four STDs.”
Some students came in with some prior knowledge about the topics at hand. For others this was their first real time having someone sit them down and talk to them about it.
“My parents talked to me about this stuff,” said one student. “It’s a little embarrassing to have the talk with everyone else around you because some of us are immature, but, you know, you’ve got to have it.”
Teen Maze continues Friday at C.A. Gray.