Beyond Adultism and Tokenism in Youth Engagement

10:45 AM
12:00 PM
Chesapeake 4-6


As we strive to include and empower youth to create safe and healthy communities, we encounter two formidable enemies: Adultism and Tokenism.

Adultism is defined by YouthBuild USA as "behaviors and attitudes based on the assumptions that adults are better than young people, and entitled to act upon young people without agreement." Tokenism is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “making only a symbolic effort, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups to give the appearance of equality.”

Youth have been locked out of equitable, empowered roles within prevention for decades. But times are changing. In this dynamic, interactive workshop, we will explore the attitudes, language, behaviors, and institutional norms that have perpetuated adultism and tokenism, and we’ll learn how to transform our coalitions and communities into vehicles for intergenerational equity. We’ll no longer just invite youth to our table; we will build an inclusive table together.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

1. Understand how adultism and tokenism have infected the prevention field.

2. Identify adultist and tokenistic language, practices, and norms.

3. Implement ways to move from adultism to intergenerational equity.


Nigel Wrangham
CADCA Master Youth Trainer