Valdosta Daily Times

October 25, 2013

The Maze of Life

Teens choose possible paths

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Jail, drugs or graduation, these were just some of the scenarios which Brooks County students faced Thursday afternoon.

As part of a national movement to help students understand how their decisions will impact the rest of their life, Brooks County High School hosted a teen maze for their eighth and ninth graders.

During the maze, several local businesses and organizations set up booths. Partners for the maze included Brooks County Department of Family and Children Services, Brooks County Family Connection, Brooks County Hospital, Brooks County Sheriff’s Department, BTW Funeral Services, Department of Public Health, Healthy Promotions, South Health District, ECHOES, Office of Adolescent Health, Quitman Police Department, Wiregrass Technical College, Cook County Workforce Development Center, Economic Development, DJJ, CNS Bank, the Army, Brooks County Juvenile Court and Prince Automotive.

Before entering the maze, students were separated by gender and given two options, attend a party or do volunteer work. The decision they made would determine the rest of their lives.

Students choosing volunteer work could participate in a ropes course and would eventually either reach graduation, the military or could even win a free car.

Students succumbing to peer pressure and going to the party faced several possible scenarios. Some students would end up in a gang and arrested for drugs, others would end up getting sexually transmitted diseases or pregnant. Students getting pregnant would either be arrested for child neglect, due to drug abuse, or would have complications at birth and become addicted to drugs after the death of their baby.

While these themes might seem dark, the school feels they are important messages to share with the students.

Brooks County Middle School Principal Djana Goss said of the maze, “At this age, next year, they will be at the high school. They are faced with a lot of issues now that, when I was their age, I never had to deal with.

“Peer pressure is rampant in the middle school. I think for them to actually be exposed to some real-life scenarios will give them a glimpse of some decisions and get them thinking about the future now rather than waiting until 12th grade.”

The idea of teen mazes has been making its way from the West Coast in recent years. Danielle Deloach with Brooks County Family Connection said, “We want to help kids understand that their decisions have consequences, both positive and negative.”

Lamar Thomas, graduation coach, was one of the people spearheading the maze.

“Character, education and life skills are important. We are trying to expose them to possibilities of what can happen and try to make it as realistic as we can and hit as many issues as we can,” Thomas said. “We want to make them aware of the choices they make and hopefully we will be able to save at least one or two.”