After going to a party and consuming drugs and alcohol, they tested their fates by getting behind the wheel, only to crash and experience the horrors and trauma of the emergency room.
Some died, but some who were spared went to drug rehabilitation, while others pulled through and got to go on their first dates.
But on their dates, some of those freshman decided to have sex for the first time without protection, resulting in some sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancies that led to them having to drop out of high school to provide for broken homes.
The good news is all of that didn’t actually happen. Students participated in the UR Choice, UR Destiny Teen Maze at the Coosa Valley Fair Grounds on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Angie Robinson, youth development coordinator for Northwest Georgia Public Heath said the Teen Maze was essentially a life-size game board the teens navigated as they encountered real life choices that often interfere with their reaching high school graduation. The teens dealt with the consequences of those choices. The goal of the Teen Maze is to reach graduation and the focus is on education.
Along the path in the Teen Maze, students were presented with information by volunteers and professionals on such subjects as alcohol, drugs, sexual activity, pregnancy, child care, career selection and job search, just to name a few.
Robinson said there were 300 volunteers that helped make the Teen Maze possible from the Rome City Police Department, the Floyd County Police Department, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Family & Children’s Services, the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Nursing Program, the Shorter University Nursing Program and the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, Floyd Medical Center Emergency Medical Services, the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia, Young Moms, Floyd County Juvenile Court, Floyd County Coroner’s Office, Heritage First Bank and Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.
“The whole thing is about teens making choices and understanding the consequences,” Robinson said, adding that 70 parents and teens attended the maze on Tuesday, Floyd County freshman came on Wednesday, and Rome High School and Cedartown High School freshman attended on Thursday.
She said the teens started the maze at a party scene where there were simulations of drugs and alcohol. The teens were lectured on the stress of peer pressure and what the consequences of drugs and alcohol could be.
When they left the party, the teens then witnessed a reenactment of a car wreck that occurred when two teenage siblings were driving under the influence. The driver sent a text message while driving, which caused her to veer off the road and crash, killing her brother.
From there, the students were dispersed in five different directions based on different colored bracelets they were given.
Robinson said one group went from the crash scene to the driving track where they wore goggles that simulated inebriation as they drove a golf cart with a law enforcement representative. Some teens went to the “emergency room,” to witness the trauma scene of the injured driver from the wreck. Some went straight to the “funeral home” where they wrote their own eulogies and took an obituary photo. Some went straight to the “graveyard.” Some students went to “rehabilitation” and some were booked into “jail.”
Another group, she said, got lucky and went on their “first dates.”
“They pick whether they chose to have sex or not,” she said. “If they did choose to have sex, they go to the drug store to buy birth control.”
To simulate the students losing their virginities, she said, they had confetti thrown on them by volunteers who also blew party horns.
“Then they find out whether their birth control method worked,” Robinson continued. “They found out whether they got an SIT (sexually transmitted infection) or pregnant, or if they got lucky and nothing happened. Some will go to pregnancy and they go through all three trimesters. Then they go to the nursery to pick up their baby, and then they have to go through all the social services.”
Model High School freshman Brian Griffin said the maze had an impact on him.
“I’m learning about how to make good choices,” he said, after a volunteer taught him how to strap his fake baby into a car seat. “Like wait until you have sex until you’re married. Don’t do drugs and make good choices.”
Robinson said there had been an extremely positive response from the students about the maze, and counselors were standing by in case anyone got upset by what they were experiencing.
“There’s an exit counseling station at the end where we do a check in to make sure they’re ok,” she said. “Because, with some of these consequences, we want to make sure we don’t create trauma in the kids or upset them. So there’s actually trained counselors back there who make sure everything is ok.”
Brendan Thomas, a Model freshman, said the child care portion of the maze really resonated with him.
“I didn’t know how to put on a baby’s diaper,” he said. “I thought it was easier than it was and it seems like a lot of work having a baby. I don’t plan on having one anytime soon.”
Nya Roeea said she had learned not to give in to peer pressure.
“It’s very important for you to wait and not give in to people who tell you what to do,” she said. “We learned that you’re the boss of your own self and you control your destiny. You need to wait (to have sex) and if you aren’t going to wait, you need to use protection. One mistake can affect your whole entire life.”