Youth Connections

Youth Connections Network is made up of youth-serving organizations in Marquette County that are finding ways to work together to strengthen the overall environment for youth and to ensure they grow up healthy, competent and caring. The network wants to prevent youth from becoming “disconnected,” meaning they have no job, are not in school and have no high school diploma as they move into adulthood. Preventing this from happening starts very early, so the network’s focus includes children from birth on up.

YC logo color wide

Mealtime is an Ideal Time for Positive Family Communication!

Youth Connections Network has launched a campaign that promotes “mealtime as an ideal time” for family conversation.

The 2014 Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors survey of 1,700 8th, 10th and 12th graders in Marquette County, shows that only 31 percent of students feel they communicate positively with their parents and are willing to seek advice and counsel from them.

Research indicates physical, mental and emotional benefits for young people who experience family meals including:

  • Better academic performance
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater sense of resilience
  • Lower risk of substance abuse
  • Lower risk of teen pregnancy
  • Lower risk of depression
  • Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
  • Lower rates of obesity

Resources for Building Positive Family Communication

50 Family Conversation Starters

How to talk with Your Girl Scout

Mealtime is an Ideal Time poster

Family Mealtime Public Service Announcement

“Plate It Forward” Project


What did the grape say when it got stepped on? Nothing! It just let out a little wine.

That’s one of the jokes included on hundreds of sets of placemats being distributed by Youth Connections Network to families throughout Marquette County. Whether family members groan or giggle together over the jokes, they will have served their purpose of getting family members to connect with one another around mealtime.

In addition to jokes, the mats feature games, puzzles and other conversation starters designed to promote positive family communication. When families have used the placemats, which are laminated, come six to a set and include washable markers, they’re asked to “plate it forward,” by handing their set off to another family so they can have fun together too.

Then those families plate it forward… and on it goes.

A limited number of the placemats are available at Great Lakes Center for Youth Development, 712 Chippewa Square, Suite 200 in Marquette.

Plate It Forward placemats

Visit Plate It Forward on social media!