Whereas most constituency events cater to well-established individuals like parents and professionals with careers and kids in tow, “For The Future: What You Should Know” was poised to change that trend.
Feeling left out of the civic loop, the summer interns of Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan came up with the idea to organize the event, which was catered to constituents like them — college and high school students.
“The average age of our intern is 16, and though this event is geared towards people of all ages it focuses on kids going off to college and college kids entering the real world to give them skills that they can take with them for life,” said Lafazan, of Syosset.
At the free event, held at Syosset-Woodbury Community Center on Aug. 9, constituents were able to engage in a number of scheduled presentations on CPR training, voter registration, college admissions and given insight on student life, healthy eating habits and media and financial literacy. Young attendants were also able to ask questions of elected officials in a civic Q & A, which featured Lafazan and Oyster Bay Town Councilman Louis Imbroto.
“I was so excited to come speak to the younger people about getting involved and getting engaged, because for years this has been an issue that I’ve been working on,” said Imbroto, a Republican from Plainview.
Upon graduating from Fordham Law, the councilman returned to his native Long Island and started a couple of youth-oriented organizations that engaged local young people with their communities and empowered them in their future careers. And what he found, he said, was overwhelming apathy.
“People are not getting an education in civics in school,” Imbroto said. “They’re not learning about the way the different levels of government work, or how they interact, and they don’t know what we do. So, I jumped at the opportunity to come here.”
Among attendants were members from Lafazan’s intern team, including Jess Gianfortune, of Sea Cliff, and Diana Miller, of Glen Head. The college sophomores said events like “For The Future,” which crowd source valuable information, are advantageous for young constituents.
“Going into college, there aren’t as many resources as you would think there are,” Miller said. “This creates a stepping stone for people before they get to college.”
Gianfortune said the purpose of the event was in the name, as it allowed younger constituents a chance to learn essential skills for the future. “This is a good place where you can ask questions about anything, financial, academic, social, and it’s really important to prepare yourself going into [college] because you never know what to expect,” she said.
Miller added that the event was especially important for young women. Representatives from Girls Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to educating girls on navigating gender, economic, and social barriers, were on-hand to engage attendants with “pro-girl” programming.
“A lot of girls need this exposure to help them get excited and encouraged to go into higher education,” Miller said.
For Lafazan and Imbroto, who caucus with opposing parties, “For The Future” allowed them to demonstrate civility, a trait that seems fleeting in national politics.
“Lou’s been a close friend of mine for years, and we continue to work together on a daily basis,” Lafazan said. “This is the way government is supposed to run, and I think young people can bring back civility. That’s why young people should run for office, and they should run for office now.”