Young People Pack Lawrence Forum To Discuss Important Issues

Sen. L’Italien To Bring Concerns Back To Senate To Shape State Policy, New Laws


More than 120 young people and community leaders packed the Lawrence Public Library auditorium on April 26 for a forum hosted by Sen. Barbara L’Italien to hear about issues that matter most to Merrimack Valley millennials.


Millennials — roughly defined as people aged 16 to 35 — account for over one-third of the U.S. population and are the most diverse generation in the post-World War II era, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers.


Sen. L’Italien, who represents Lawrence, Andover, Dracut and Tewksbury, invited local organizations, community groups and businesses that cater to young people who work in healthcare, education, technology and other fields to the forum, which was free and open to the public. Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, who is leading the Senate’s statewide Millennial Engagement Initiative, co-hosted the Lawrence forum with Sen. L’Italien.  


Approximately 35 people, mostly Lawrence young people and community leaders, took the microphone to voice wide-ranging concerns, questions and aspirations.


“It was a productive and inspirational evening,” Sen. L’Italien said of the forum. “I was pleased with the great turnout and all the great questions and comments.”


Just a few of the issues raised by speakers included: challenges of growing up in households headed by single working parents; college debt; barriers to learning English; immigration restrictions; drug and alcohol addiction; homelessness and poverty; how to attract young Lawrence residents who leave for college to come back to their city; and how to provide more support for young Latino entrepreneurs and business people.


“This event was designed to solicit important information from young people, who are so often impacted by state policy makers,” Sen. L’Italien said. “I will bring their concerns and ideas back to the State House to help us develop new policies and laws to create opportunities for millennials and help them succeed and prosper in all kinds of ways.”


The Millennial Engagement Forum was similar to a another public forum that Sen. L’Italien and Senate President Stan Rosenberg hosted last year at Salvator’s Function Facility in Lawrence.  The purpose of that forum was to solicit local input on important issues and priorities prior to the Senate developing its 2016 state budget proposal.