Program Uses Pop Culture To Teach Values

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Teams of local teens squared off against each other in a fun competition Saturday evening at Mazatzal Casino Activity Center as part of a new program designed to reduce the impact of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and other social issues.

Project Insight works in conjunction with local resources to offer individual and group activities that improve living skills through anger management, coping skills, self-esteem development and community involvement. Michele DeRouin, a youth coordinator who recently moved to Payson from Orange County, organized the Saturday event.

"We had teams competing against each other in relays and other crazy games based on the 'Survivor' and 'Fear Factor' shows," DeRouin said. "The teams earned points for each event, and the winning team won some really big prizes including TV sets, DVD players and Diamondbacks tickets donated by local merchants."

"The idea is to present an alternative to Saturday night partying and things that get kids in trouble," DeRouin said. "(To accomplish that), it needed to be fun, to be crazy, to be something that was hip right now."

The events, which included swallowing goldfish and eating "obnoxious concoctions" were based on recent reality television shows.

All Payson High School students were invited to participate in the event, and DeRouin expects a bigger turnout for future activities when participants tell their friends what a great time they had. Up next is a Frisbee golf obstacle course, tentatively scheduled for some time in August.

Local businesses that supported the event include APS, Bashas', Sunstate Equipment, The Rock Yard, Payson Concrete & Materials, Stockmen's Bank, Mazatzal Casino, Tonto Apache Human Resources and Recreation Department, Sawmill Theatres, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Pioneer Title, First American Title and the Majestic Mountain Inn.

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