North Star Youth Partnership

North Star Youth Partnership engages youth ages 11-18 through educational, recreational, leadership and service-learning opportunities. What started in 1997 as an educational program to prevent adolescent pregnancy in Yavapai County has expanded to 11 different programs serving youth in Central and Northern Arizona.

Tuesday, 08 November 2022

21st Annual Teen Maze Helps Youth Make Good Decisions

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As adults, we know that life can change in the blink of an eye, but what is the best way to help teens understand how the choices they make can have life altering consequences? For the past 21 years, local youth organizations led by Catholic Charities’ North Star Youth Partnership, Matforce, and the Yavapai County Community Health Services, have a winning strategy to accomplish this mission.

Life-Size Gameboard Teaches Real-World Lessons

Teen Maze, a community-driven event to help youth experience the consequences of life choices and provide them with information they need to make good choices, was held October 19-21 at the Grace M. Sparkes Activity Center in Prescott. Teen Maze and its design "bring to life" the potential effects of various life choices.

Envision a life-size boardgame and you'll get a good mental picture of teens navigating their way through the Maze by drawing scenario cards or spinning a wheel that educates on a myriad of topics, including alcohol and substance abuse with particular focus this year on fentanyl, marijuana, and vaping; self-care strategies; decision making and goal setting; resiliency; college and careers; teen pregnancy and STDs; online dangers; and distracted driving, to name a few. Each section of the Maze is presented through creative games and hands-on activities to provide an experiential learning environment.

“I learned a lot about goal setting and why it’s important to plan ahead,” said one participant, while another shared, “Fentanyl can kill you.”

Community Partners Provide Authentic Experience for Students

The Maze paths are staffed by various individuals and youth-serving organizations that present age appropriate, medically accurate information. In addition to the three organizers, other groups that are participating include Yavapai College, Prescott Valley Police Department, Yavapai Family Advocacy Center, Granite Mountain Psychological Society, Community Pregnancy Center, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department, and APS. Over 100 volunteers daily help make the event possible.

Major event funding for this year was provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Dignity Healthcare- Yavapai Regional Medical Center, APS, Granite Mountain Psychological Society, Matforce, and North Star Youth Partnership.

“We are so fortunate to have a community that supports youth programs through their donations of time and money. Teen Maze takes hundreds of hours to plan and implement and our community partners and volunteers are simply the best. Their passion and dedication to educate our youth is so inspiring,” said Kasey Shaver, North Star Youth Partnership’s Youth Development Coordinator as well as Teen Maze Coordinator.

This year, over 900 students registered for Teen Maze. Students agreed that the Maze was an eye-opening experience.

When asked what was the most important thing they learned, the answers indicated students truly understood that choices have consequences. One student replied, “I was shocked by how many years you can go to jail for sending inappropriate photos,” while another said, “I learned a lot about online dangers and how to stay safe on social media.”

Information shared through the event is invaluable, impacting hundreds of young lives year after year. At the end of the day, a participant stated, “Everything I learned was important.”

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Diane DeLong

Diane DeLong is Senior Program Manager of North Star Youth Partnership. She has been working in the field of teen pregnancy prevention and positive youth development programming since joining Catholic Charities in 1997. Diane is a graduate of Iowa State University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She also completed the Nonprofit Management Institute Certificate through Yavapai College in partnership with Arizona State University.

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