Teaching teenagers about making responsible choices requires a real world classroom. For the second year in a row, local non-profit 1N3, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, and a diverse array of community partners will be hosting Choices Matter Teen Maze. This life-size maze allows students to make a life or death choice, experience the consequences, and yet live another day to ponder their choice.
“The Health Department takes driving under the influence (DUI), and all forms of impaired and distracted driving, very seriously,” says Monica Baker, Highway Safety Coordinator at the Health Department, “Because we strongly believe that it is a 100% preventable crime.”
Teen Maze begins with a presentation by 1N3, an agency that was founded after Kevin “Sunshine” Yates was killed by a drunk driver. After that, students attend a mock drunk driving crash put on by Chattanooga Police and Fire Departments, East Ridge Police Department, and Hamilton County EMS. From there, they move on to stations that simulate real life consequences, including:
· Tennessee Highway Patrol Rollover Vehicle and Tennessee Trucking Association “No Zone Trailer”
· Driving a golf cart through an obstacle course with Fatal Vision Alcohol Impairment Goggles
· Trauma surgery for crash victims set up by Erlanger Hospital
· A mock trial set up by Hamilton County Juvenile Court Services, and assisted by judges from Hamilton County General Session Court, East Ridge City Court, Collegedale Municipal Court
· A mock funeral set up by Chattanooga Funeral Home
The students continue through other scenario rooms dealing with relevant topics such as (with volunteers from):
· Substance abuse & rehabilitation (CADAS, Hamilton County Coalition, Tobacco Free Chattanooga)
· Bullying, Peer Pressure, and Healthy Relationships (Health Department)
· Sexually transmitted infections (Chattanooga Cares)
· Teen pregnancy/parenting (Health Department)
· Education & career opportunities
In the end, over 1,000 students will “graduate” with a Teen Maze Diploma. Each of them will have a better understanding of how poor decisions can have consequences that last a lifetime.
1N3 was founded in 2011 by Tiki Finlayson and her son Derek Yates who lost their son and brother, respectively, Kevin Yates, in a drunk driving crash. Behind the other wheel was Tish Stephens. In a powerful story of transformation and forgiveness, Tiki forgave Tish and bonded together to form the core of 1N3. Tiki and Tish telling their story is a central feature of Teen Maze along with others who will share how this 100% preventable crime impacted their lives as well.
The Teen Maze is open for parents and the general public to go through on March 8, 2-5pm at the Health Sciences Center Building on Chattanooga State’s Amnicola campus. Although free, we do request that anyone wishing to attend the preview register by clicking here. The students will be bused in by their respective schools March 9-11. Media may attend either the preview day or the student days (releases have been signed). More information can be found on the Choices Matter Teen Maze Parent & Community PREVIEW Facebook event page, or by contacting 1N3 or calling the Health Department at 209-8088.