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By Cyd Lass
Staff Intern 

Worland Middle School students learn that choices matter

WORLAND – Wednesday, May 1, eighth-grade Worland Middle School students set out into the community to learn more about choices that could impact the rest of their lives.

 

May 9, 2019

Tracie Mitchell

Worland eighth-grader Sophia Scheuerman looks into a casket with a mirror inside to highlight the consequences of bad choices at Bryant Funeral home in Worland during the Choices That Matter program on May 1, 2019.

WORLAND – Wednesday, May 1, eighth-grade Worland Middle School students set out into the community to learn more about choices that could impact the rest of their lives.

Previously referred to as "Life R U Ready," Worland Middle School started the program "Choices That Matter" in order to allow students to receive more hands-on experience about the consequences of their choices.

Life R U Ready was a life-simulation health fair to increase awareness with teenagers on consequences of behavior and to open new opportunities for parent-teen communication. Previously, representatives from Wyoming Highway Patrol, Worland Fire Department, Cloud Peak Counseling and the Bureau of Land Management led students through presentations on leadership roles, family planning and drug and alcohol awareness.

Through real-life scenarios such as fake house parties, driving courses with vision-impairing goggles and simulated crash vehicles worked to decrease teen's motivation to participate in risk-taking behavior and provide new opportunities. Starting last year, eighth-grade students were assigned to different off-campus locations to focus on different topics including respect and responsibility, consequences, rehabilitation, awareness and healthy lifestyles. Other topics included relationships, trust and emotional health.

This year, Choices That Matter required students to do a presentation on one of the off-campus stations and what they learned there. Students of family and consumer science teacher Amber Bennett participated in these presentations.

In one presentation, two students spoke about attending the county jail. With their experience, here toured the jail and learned about different topics, including responsibility and consequences. One student commented "you always hear that jail isn't all that bad, but it actually sucks!"

Another presentation focused on a trip to Washakie County Public Health. With going to this location, students learned more about consent and healthy relationships while also discussing serious topics such as sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and testing. At this location, students watched a popular video on what consent means, mostly referred to as "Tea and Consent." In this video, tea is used as a metaphor for sex.

A scenario used in the video is when asking someone if they want a cup of tea and they're not sure. "You can make them a cup of tea," the video states. "But be aware they might not drink it. And if they don't drink it – and this is the important part – don't make them drink it."

Life R U Ready originated in the Arizona school system under its original alias "Sex R U Ready" before it was adopted by Wyoming schools in 2006 and had the name change in order to initiate more diversity. The program had its first year in Worland 10 years ago in 2009 at the Worland Community Center Complex. Modeled after Campbell County's Life R U Ready, scenes had included fake parties and a bonfire. Drugs, cigarettes and alcohol were introduced at each of these scenes. Choices students made during the scene resulted in separate consequences that dealt with social, family, legal, law enforcement and medical.

PROGRAM CHANGES

Worland Middle School counselor Danielle Warren was part of this year's transition from Life R U Ready to Choices That Matter. According to Warren, the program has been morphing over the course of the past few years. It was only this year they made the name change.

"We weren't following the motto [of Life R U Ready]," Warren explained.

The biggest change the program has gone through is being more involved with the community. Unlike previous years of Life R U Ready being stationed at the Worland Community Center Complex, eighth-grade students now go out into the community. Warren explained that this way, she felt the kids would be getting more out of the program.

Those who participated in the program this year, to teach students more about the choices in their life that matter, were Cloud Peak Counseling, the Wyoming Boys School, Washakie County Public Health, Washakie County Detention Center, the Washakie County courthouse, Chopper CrossFit, Adventure PE, Byrant Funeral Home and additional help from Worland firefighters, Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Wyoming Army National Guard.

Each of these experiences helps provide students with more knowledge about what's coming later in life. As the students prepare to enter high school, this knowledge and these experiences are hoped to come into play.

"I feel like the students got a lot out of it," Warren said.

"I think the main thing we wanted them to learn was that their choices – even made in a split second – have a huge difference and have an impact on their life...they stop and think about 'how is this going to affect my future' and 'What's important in my life?' So I feel like the kids took away what we wanted them to take away, that the choices that they make will affect and matter to their future selves and to everyone around them – not just themselves but to their parents, their friends, their family, even sometimes people they don't know or haven't met yet."

"I'll talk to students in high school who did the program and they're always like 'hey! I remember that! I did this, or I did that..!'" Warren said. "We don't always hear stories or know what impact this has. That's just the nature of working with people – you don't always get to see the fruits of your labors. We don't always get the luxury of knowing what impact it has."

"I think of celebrities who receive fan mail from people who got through something or a hard situation because of that one person," she said. "I think our community members don't always realize the impact they're having as they volunteer and help. You don't know how it's going to affect that one student, that one person to change the course of their life. If it only reaches one student, it's totally worth it."

 
 

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