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      Hope restored for at-risk youth

      Over 170 community members from across the Upper Peninsula came together Friday at the Marquette Holiday Inn to converse about the U.P.'s vulnerable youth.

      Adults and youth were in attendance, as well as several Great Lakes Center for Youth Development members, who organized the event.

      Dr. John Seita, a keynote speaker at the event, talked about his life as a vulnerable youth and how he managed to beat the odds that were against him. Afterwards, participants shared their own stories with one another.

      Ishpeming youth Tia Platteborze said, "I struggled when I was younger. I was in different foster homes and now I'm adopted, so I thought this could give me some background in what I experienced and so I can help others."

      Marquette youth Sophia Novak said, "When I was 13 years old, I lost my father, and that was really hard for me. And ever since then, I've had a very hard time connecting with my mother, and just recently I decided to move out of my home. And I'm only 17 years old; I was sixteen when I moved out."

      At-risk teens helped schedule the day, which included talk sessions, games, presentations, and strategies that today's youth can apply to their own lives in order for them to be successful.

      GYCLD Youth Board Member Maddie Touchinski said, "It just helps me feel like I know I can talk to people. I can share how I've felt and how I've become better at communicating, and I would like to help more people learn how to do that."

      President Elect for GLCYD Amy Quinn said, "This has been so heart-warming and personally rewarding to see how many people care about our youth."

      The youth in attendance said that giving and receiving advice are why they went.