Teen Maze Held Community Wide

  • Thursday, October 6, 2022
  • Valeria Molina, Whitfield County Public Information Officer
Volunteers and coordinators who helped make Teen Maze a success include (from left) James C. Reed, Whitfield County Sheriff's Office (WCSO); Sgt. David Saylors, Dalton Police Department; Tracie Simmons, Whitfield County Schools; Lt. Tammy Silvers and Deputies Nathan Centers and Ron Kirby, all of WCSO; Albert Hill, Department of Juvenile Justice; and Lt. Jesse Bond, Whitfield County Fire Department.
Volunteers and coordinators who helped make Teen Maze a success include (from left) James C. Reed, Whitfield County Sheriff's Office (WCSO); Sgt. David Saylors, Dalton Police Department; Tracie Simmons, Whitfield County Schools; Lt. Tammy Silvers and Deputies Nathan Centers and Ron Kirby, all of WCSO; Albert Hill, Department of Juvenile Justice; and Lt. Jesse Bond, Whitfield County Fire Department.
photo by Valeria Molina

The annual Teen Maze was held the week of Sept. 26 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than 2,000 10th graders from Whitfield County, the City of Dalton, Murray County and local private schools took part in the event at the North Georgia Fairgrounds. Students navigated through the maze that presented different scenarios and consequences related to underage drinking, driving under the influence, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and more. 

“It is so great to be back and doing this in person for our 10th year,” said Tracie Simmons, who is a lead social worker for Whitfield County Schools and one of the Teen Maze coordinators. “The Teen Maze is like the old board game of Life, and it demonstrates in a very safe space, that your choices have consequences, but they don’t have to define who we are or who we become.” 

Ms, Simmons added that giving students this information is helpful “because if they’re put in that real life situation, they will be able to make a better choice.” 

In one of the scenarios, students are directed to an emotional presentation by Chris Sandy and Eric Krug. “We’re just on a mission to help people get a reality check and make good choices,” said Mr. Sandy, who served 8½ years in prison for two counts of vehicular homicide by DUI.  

“It was the worst day of my life.” Mr. Sandy says during his talk to the students, standing in front of a stage with a seven-foot by 12-foot imitation of a solitary confinement cell in prison. Beside him is Mr. Krug, who was a victim of a drunk driving accident. Mr. Krug suffered a traumatic brain injury on his 21st birthday that left him with the inability to talk and limited body function.  

“Eric and I met in 2006, and together we have teamed up to really give the kids we talk to an eye opener,” Mr. Sandy says. 

It takes an incredible amount of time and effort from more than 10 organizations to make the Teen Maze successful. 

“The whole community involvement is what is so amazing,” said Lori McDaniel, director of Whitfield County Family Connections and one of the Teen Maze coordinators. “It takes a lot of people to make this work. Every day we would have 200 or more volunteers all week helping to make this happen.”  

“And after the Teen Maze when the students go back to school,” Ms. McDaniel added, “we send out a survey to ask if there is anything else we need to add or what we need to focus on more, which is extremely helpful, especially for the school social workers.” 

Individuals interested in volunteering for the Teen Maze in 2023 are encouraged to contact Whitfield County Family Connections at 706-934-2851.

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