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Sat, Aug. 24

Annual Teen Maze educates Verde’s youth for past 10 years
Living healthy, informed lives

The idea for Teen Maze came about when community members wanted to help the community’s youth lead healthy, informed lives, according to Jennie Underwood, Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Specialist for Verde Valley Sanctuary.

The idea for Teen Maze came about when community members wanted to help the community’s youth lead healthy, informed lives, according to Jennie Underwood, Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Specialist for Verde Valley Sanctuary.

COTTONWOOD – For the past 10 years, Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) and the Verde Valley Sanctuary (VVS) have partnered to help the area’s young people make positive life choices.

The idea for Teen Maze came about when community members wanted to help the community’s youth lead healthy, informed lives, according to Jennie Underwood, Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Specialist for Verde Valley Sanctuary.

“We are always looking for new games and information to give to our youth,” Underwood says.

With the annual Teen Maze event in the Verde Valley, schools from across the Valley are invited to bring students from grades 6 through 9 to participate in a series of booths, pending approximately 10 minutes in each booth in the maze.

Teen Maze 2017 will be held from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. March 7-8 at the Clemenceau Building in Cottonwood. Teen Maze could possibly be extended to March 9, from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., Underwood says.

The purpose of Teen Maze is “to educate and inform the youth in our area with the intent to provide them with the skills and knowledge to make positive life choices,” Underwood says. “Last year we had nine booths in our maze. This year, we have added a tenth booth. Country Bank will be doing a presentation on how to identify counterfeit bills. They will have counterfeit $20 and $50 bills and have a game to interact with the students.”

Underwood also says that the booth participants “make the presentations fun and interactive with the students, as to keep their attention and keep them involved.”

“We feel that having them interact helps them to stay present and be more apt to remember the information they are hearing,” Underwood says. “CrossFit was a big hit with the students last year, so we are excited to have them back with us this year.”

In addition to County Bank’s booth to help identify counterfeit bills, as well as CrossFit’s booth, this year’s educational booths are:

-Healthy Relationships, by Verde Valley Sanctuary,

-Tobacco and Prescription Drug Education, by the Yavapai County Health Department

-Sexually transmitted diseases, by the Yavapai County Health Department

-Nutrition, by the Yavapai County Health Department

-Safe dates and sexual assault, by the Yavapai County Health Department

-Drunk driving, by Cottonwood Police Department

-Substance abuse, by MatForce

-Cyber Safety, by the Yavapai County Sherriff’s Office

As the event grows each year, the partnership considered moving Teen Maze to the Verde Valley Fairgrounds, according to Lizbeth Fullbright, Y.E.S. Program Coordinator, “where we could have a bigger venue as we had more agencies that showed interest in being a part of Teen Maze.”

Though that didn’t happen this year, event organizers “may look at doing that in the years to come,” Fullbright says.

“The community has seen the benefits of Teen Maze and a captured youth audience,” Fullbright says. “We continue to strive to make each year informative, educational, engaging and current.”

According to Underwood, the “overall vision that teen maze partners have for the students of our community is to empower them to lead productive, healthy, non-violent lives and thereby ensure safe and a healthy community for the future.

A parent preview night will also be held from 5:50 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. March 6.

Booths will be available with a synopsis for parents to preview, Underwood says. But presenters will not be presenting to the parents as they would to students.

For more information, call Lizbeth Fullbright, Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Program Coordinator for Verde Valley Sanctuary and the Teen Maze Coordinator at 928-634-2511.

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