The grinding metal of a car crash. The screams of the injured. The wail of sirens. The consequences of decisions.
All these were featured at Pierce County Middle School last week with the return of Pierce County’s Teen Maze.
The Maze had been on hiatus since 2019 due to COVID-19.
Teen Maze teaches PCMS eighth grade students about how good and bad behaviors can affect not only their lives but the lives of all those around them.
A total of 12 stations utilizing 30 professionals and 10 minutes of time attempts to reach 13–14-year-olds, on a mentally and emotionally deep level.
The topics range in everything from drugs and alcohol to being effective youth leaders, suicide and depression, to reflection.
“The eighth graders are engaged, inspired, intrigued and enlightened, but most of all they are educated by the people who see it and live their topics every day,” said Stephanie Bell of Pierce County Family Connection. Family Connection helps organize the event.
“It’s a beautiful thing. Each one of our station leaders could step into the role of the others. We all live these topics daily, interact with a lot of the same families and people and step up when we must. All of us are blessed to have Pierce County Middle School trust us with their students.”
The pandemic combined with teens left on their own offered a great reason to bring back Teen Maze. The event takes about 50 volunteers to man stations on the eighth grade hall.
Pierce County’s Teen Maze began with community night Wednesday, Feb. 15.
The community night allows parents and interested citizens to come out and see what will be presented to students during the event.
Bell said Pierce’s community night was the lowest attended of the three counties participating in the Maze.
“Unfortunately, ... we only had about 10 families show up, compared to Ware County and Jeff Davis who both had over 200 people show up,” Bell said. “Our turnout was a little disappointing, especially to all the volunteers. We’re hoping next year will be a lot better attended, if you have any ideas, please feel free to reach out to us.”
The full day of Teen Maze was held Thursday, Feb. 16.
The first activity is a party scene where actors wear colored bracelets that match various students so they can see who they would be at the party.
Those wearing blue bracelets are the actor who gets arrested for selling drugs. Those wearing a red bracelet are the actor who almost died of an overdose. During the middle of the party an actor runs in yelling to the cast that the police are here and everyone runs. Unfortunately some won’t make it home alive that night.
The crash scene is a grand effort put on by the first responders of Pierce County. Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS charge in, sirens blaring, responding to a faux crash scene where bloodied bodies are strewn about. Rescuers arrive to find the actor who caused the accident crying over his dead girlfriend’s body while her mother screams in distress.
“Anything you could imagine that takes place at an accident scene is happening here and the students are all witnessing it,” said Bell.
Sheriff Ramsey Bennett takes the microphone to remind students their choices matter to more than just them, they matter to their family, to their friends and to the community.
The Maze also features a court scene giving an unforgiving view on how choices have consequences.
The eighth graders watch the two mothers making personal statements, one trying to save her son from a lifetime in prison, the other trying to get justice for the death of her daughter and the other students killed in the crash. The judge sentences him to a 40-year sentence. Both mothers cried.
The finale to this epic event is what called “graduation” because all participants in Teen Maze want to see all the PCMS eighth graders graduate and more.
Donna Collins tells the story of her son, who never made it to graduation. He died of alcohol poisoning the night before he was meant to walk across the stage. Stephanie Adams tells her story of addiction from a very young age and her constant fight for recovery.
“You could have heard a pin drop in that gymnasium as the eighth graders listened, wide-eyed, some wiping tears away, others contemplating their life choices thus far. And that’s a wrap,” Bell said.
Students are given the recommendation that if anyone is in need of resources to contact the school counselor and guidance will be given in what program or service best suits the students need.
Thank yous are expressed to Coca Cola, Southern Crown, Stewart Candy, Dairy Queen, Hart Funeral Home, Resilient Georgia and Teen Impact Center for helping with the Teen Maze.
GCAPP – Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential -Leadership and advocates- Quashavis Ross, MS, Phone: 678-813-2320 Ext:105 Quashavis@gcapp.org | www.gcapp.org
Teen Impact Center – Abstinence promotion, STD testing, teen discussions, classes, GED info, hygiene baskets, and more. - Cassie Punchard - email@example.com
Pierce County Health Department – women and children’s needs, STD testing, nutrition, vaccinations, and more – Customer Service (912) 449-5011
Satilla Advocacy – Ripe Crisis Center, SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) sexual abuse,
– providing services for sexual assault survivors in Ware, Pierce, and Brantley counties.
24-hour crisis line (912) 283-0987 or (800) 656-4673
Magnolia House – Domestic Violence Shelter and Outreach – men, women, children. Providing a safe space and services. Teen dating violence, domestic abuse, spousal/partner abuse, financial abuse, etc.
Magnolia House Waycross Area Shelter for Abused Persons, Inc.- 24/7 Crisis Line: 800-33HAVEN or 912-285-5850
Unison Behavioral Health – Mental Health Services – counseling, recovery programs, trainings, suicide prevention, youth club house, - 1-800-342-8168
Mental Health Crisis – 988 Emergency – 911