U.P. residents gather to discuss youth

MARQUETTE — Upper Peninsula youth was the topic of the day at a gathering in Marquette.

The Great Lakes Center for Youth Development held its “Rise U.P. for Youth” conference Thursday. The event brought a wide range of U.P. residents together to talk about area youngsters and the issues they face. The conference gave everyone the opportunity to speak about projects and strategies they are currently working on.

“We really try to highlight things from across the U.P. that other people across the U.P. could also start,” said Amy Quinn, President and CEO of the Great Lakes Center for Youth Development. “So it’s not just networking, but it’s being more intentional, to say ‘hey, I’ve started this. If you want to learn, if you’re interested and you want to learn how to start it in your area, here’s my contact information.'”

“It’s kind of a nice opportunity, because we are a food program primarily, but we do run into other youth obstacles, and this conference puts us together with people that can help our students with things that we’re not capable of helping them with,” said Melissa Maki of 31 Backpacks, Inc. in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

This is the second time a conference such as this has been held. Event visitors also had the opportunity to hear the voices of area youth.

“They leave the day inspired, motivated, and also a little somber because of the things that you hear throughout the day, and how reality really touches you, but then you also hear how youth have overcome,” added Quinn.

“I see a lot of people who really care about the youth in their community,” said Compassion International’s Nate Ernsberger, who served as the event’s keynote speaker. “I see people who are both in the professional side and just volunteers, and it takes everybody to get together and say ‘how can we make a difference for the kids in our community?'”

For more information about the Great Lakes Center for Youth Development, click here.