October 22-24, Sandy will speak from his replicated cell to close to 1,000 Catoosa County high school students, who will be going through the “maze of their life.” During the Catoosa County Teen Maze, held at The Colonnade in Ringgold, Sandy will tell of his horrific experience and teach the importance of good decision-making. Sandy has shared his story with more than 130,000 young people in Georgia, speaks to students nationwide, but he’s never done it like this before.
Teen Maze is a theatrical, simulated game-of-life where teens will experience the consequences of poor deci-sion-making by the spin of a roulette wheel or draw from a bucket. Maze creators describe it as a “life-size game board” where teens navigate their way through life scenarios. Students increase their understanding of personal responsibility, learn peer resistance skills, how to make more effective life choices, and how to plan for a success-ful future.
Maze paths are staffed by various individuals who have a certain “role” to play and present the appropriate in-formation for that path. Phil Ledbetter, the Catoosa County Family Collaborative coordinator and director of the Catoosa Prevention Initiative, encouraged many sectors of the community to come together to make it happen and expects very positive results.
“I believe a strong community that works together and demonstrates their expertise can help save the lives of their youth and point them toward a healthy, productive life,” Ledbetter said. “No judgment is made on any of the paths. The maze just shows the possible consequences of what their choices may bring. It's designed to allow young people the opportunity to explore life-like situations and their consequences without having to suffer the real-life permanency and pain.”
Drawing from real-life experience, the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, doctors and nurses from Erlanger at Hutcheson, the Catoosa Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Catoosa Fire Department and many others will help create a party scene, fatal crash, emergency room and funeral experience for the students. They will use the actual vehicles and medical equipment necessary to perform their daily work in this performance. Dating choices, peer pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and child support are among the subjects exposed to the students.
High school graduation is the end goal of the Teen Maze, but a teen's experiences in-between will demonstrate how reaching that goal can become more difficult based upon the choices made. Denia Reese, Catoosa County su-perintendent of schools, will present the mock certificates to the teens at the end of the maze and encourage them to keep their eye on the prize of achieving their real high school graduation diploma.
Costing more than $30,000, most of the funding comes from a grant from the state of Georgia to the Catoosa Alco-hol Prevention Initiative. Also, a Teen Maze Equipment Grant from Wal-Mart covered $5,000.
This the first Teen Maze for Catoosa County. Other counties in Georgia that have completed Teen Mazes are Troup, Crisp, Dodge, Colquitt, Tift, Floyd and Clayton. Students from Ringgold High School, Lakeview-Fort Ogle-thorpe High School, Heritage High School, The Performance Learning Center and some home school students will attend. For more information, call the Catoosa Prevention Initiative at 706 935-5018.
Catoosa Teen Maze
Where: Catoosa Colonnade, 264 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, Ga.
When: Oct 23-24, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (some on Monday afternoon, Oct. 22)
Who: Catoosa County high school students/teenagers
Why: Educate teens on dangers of alcohol and other bad choices
Chris Sandy's story: enduringregret.com
Catoosa Prevention Initiative: 706-935-5018