As teens enter the life-sized Teen Maze, they may not realize that lessons have begun.
Instantly drawn in by the funny looking glasses they get to wear at the first stop, it all seems like just fun. However, they soon discover these glasses mimic the effects of alcohol. With glasses on, teens are asked to walk a straight line, the same as if they were pulled over for suspicion of drinking under the influence.
“I couldn’t believe it,” shared Kaitlyn Tucker, a 12-year-old Teen Maze participant. “No matter how hard I tried to walk that line straight, it wasn’t happening.”
Just like that teens are engaged in an eye-opening, interactive experience designed to help them examine the choices they make in their everyday lives.
As teens navigate their way through the 60-minute maze, lessons are learned through games and activities; cards are drawn, dice are rolled, wheels are spun to select a path demonstrating the benefits of positive choices and consequences of negative ones.
“Teen Maze allows teens to discover, in a fun and interactive way, how the choices they make can affect the future they would like to have without actually putting them at risk,” said Diane DeLong, executive director of North Star Youth Partnership.
The goal of Teen Maze is to provide accurate information about teen issues, including the emotional, physical and financial consequences of sexual activity, substance abuse and technology use. The maze brings raw reality to light such as that dating violence affect 1 in 3 teens; half of the 19 million new cases of sexual transmitted diseases each year are among young people and that synthetic drug reactions calls to poison control have doubled in the last years.
“My boys were 11 years old, not quite teenagers, so I wasn’t sure if the program was truly for them,” shares Catherine Woznicki, a mom who brought her two sons to last year’s Teen Maze. “I decided to take them anyway and I am so glad I did.”
Teen Maze is presented by North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities Community Services and sponsored in part by Bug & Weed Mart and National Bank of Arizona. Funding is provided in part by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Teen Maze is free and is held March 8 and 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Fiesta Mall in Dillard’s Court by Forever 21. For information or group reservations contact Diane DeLong at (602) 650-4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.