Every ninth grader should experience the Teen Maze program

Asia Ashley Staff Columnist

November 9, 2013

Teen Maze is a program is I wish my classmates and I could have experienced in high school.

As I was walked through the maze at the Callaway Conference Center, I was amazed at the new world that I, and the students, were being exposed too.

A world, outside of textbooks and parental hounding, that allowed student to experience the real life dangers of drunk driving and unprotected sex; A world that showed students that the choices they make now are crucial to their futures.

Seeing the expressions on some of the students’ faces as they listened to the frantic 911 call about a fatal car crash that was caused by a DUI, watching as the fire department and emergency medical services assisted an injured male as a sheet was draped over a bloodied lifeless body… was a reality.

Experiencing what its like to live with a sexually transmitted disease or having to care for a child showed students how burdensome and costly it could be by not practicing abstinence or engaging in safe-sex practices.

One student had told me after becoming infected with herpes during his “scenario” in the maze, that he had not realized how serious unprotected sex could be.

“I heard about STDs, but I didn’t realize how real they are,” he said.

Troup County’s Teen Maze Coordinator Jane Gannon Simms said that when students are shown pictures of what various STDs could look like it really hits home with them. While looking at the pictures myself, I found myself awed and cringing at the sight. Having the student put in the mindset of them having one of the pictured STDs created a real shock factor to them.

If this program had been brought to schools in previous generations, I think there would be much more success stories and graduation rates. Not to say that the program will deter students 100 percent from engaging in risky behaviors, but it surely is an eye opener to them and creates a more personable opportunity for them to experience various life scenarios and emotions that can’t be felt in a text book or a “talk.”

All parents of ninth grade students should let their child experience the Teen Maze program if it is offered, and every city or county that does not have it needs to hop on board. Teen STD and pregnancy rates could see a decrease with the implementation the Teen Maze programs around the world.

I commend the program and its volunteers and contributors in Troup County who helped make the program a success. They were not mentioned in the article about Troup County’s Teen Maze last week “It’s like a reality check to them.”

The following were contributors to the program: West Georgia Technical College, Walmart Distribution Center, Troup County Sheriff’s Department, Troup County Health Department, LaGrange Police Department, Twin Cedars, United Way, First Choice Women’s Center, Troup Transformation, Troup County School System, the City of LaGrange, the City of West Point, DFCS, Junior Service League, West Georgia Health, LaGrange Fire Department, American Medical Response, Xpect It, PC Screen Printing & Sign Co., Parmer-Willis Monument Co., Striffler Hamby Funeral Home, LaGrange Florist, Southern Cart Services, New Ventures Inc., Creative Call-Ins, Chick-fil-A, Coca Cola, Domino’s, REMAX Results, Dell Services, LaGrange Banking Company, LaGrange College, GA Department of Labor and Ideal Cleaners.