Parents Invited To Walk Through Teen Maze Of Personal Choices

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Parents of high school students are invited to step into their teenager's shoes May 9 and remember the choices they faced as their hormones raged and the opposite sex suddenly became attractive.

"The Teen Maze" for parents will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, in the old Payson High School Gym.

Teens may attend the Maze the following Thursday.

"The mission is to help teens learn that sex should wait until they are ready to assume the responsibility for decision-making and the potential outcome," said Paula Medina Gila County Health Department health programs manager.

New Beginnings Pregnancy Center in Payson and the health department are joint sponsors of the Maze. The event was also made possible through a generous donation from the Tonto Apache Tribe.

"Will you prove your love by having sex with me?" is the first question teens must answer as they begin to navigate the Maze.

Teens draw their answers from a bag.

So they will learn the consequences, very few will draw the answer "no" from the bag.

"Yes" answers lead one of two directions -- pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease.

On the pregnancy path, a young woman might lose the support of her father or family. She might face decisions about how she will manage to graduate from high school.

Young men with pregnant girlfriends may have to decide what to do if the mother of their child turns to illegal drugs to alleviate her depression.

If having sex led to an STD, teens get to spin the Wheel of Misfortune and find what disease they contracted from their partner. Is the STD treatable, such as gonorrhea and syphilis (if caught soon enough), permanent, such as herpes, or lethal, such as AIDS?

While mom and dad do not need permission from their teens to attend parent night, teens do need parent or guardian permission to go through the Maze during school hours on May 10.

Permission slips are due to the PHS office by April 30.

Just in case students forget to bring a permission slip home, they are available from the PHS office and New Beginnings Pregnancy Center.

Many local doctors, officers from the Payson Police department, Child Protective Services, volunteers from Time Out and other agencies will man different stations of the Maze and give frank answers to questions.

"I feel Maze attendance is important, because we need to educate kids as a community about the consequences of early sexual involvement," DeRouin said.

New Beginnings has given out 264 pregnancy tests in the past year, 111 of those tests were to single mothers.

"Teen pregnancy is a problem in the Rim Country," she said. "I encourage parents to seek out permission slips, if their son or daughter does not bring one home."

Each teen who turns in a permission slip before the April 30 deadline will be entered in a raffle for an iPod and other prizes.

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