Sam Houston State University’s Kats for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) speaks out.
“We are trying to educate people,” Kats for CASA President Joseph Guy said. “This month is child abuse awareness month, every year we try to do as much as we can to let people know child abuse is still an issue and bring awareness.”
Kats for CASA is a community service-based organization dedicated to supporting and promoting court appointed volunteer advocacy. Last week, Kats for CASA organized a meeting where they brought in speakers to discuss what they can do in the community to help build awareness and help local children in need.
The first speaker was CASA representative Gabby Garcia, who spoke on volunteer opportunities within CASA and the need for more help. The volunteers are all trained and given the tools and information they need to properly help children who have had allegations confirmed by Child Protective Services.
“Our goal is for every child to have a CASA. The vision is that every child deserves a safe and good future,” Garcia said.
One of the prominent groups that spoke were the Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA). The spokesperson for the group goes by the biker name “GPS.”
“We hold hands with the kids,” GPS said. “We are the protectors. We are the support.”
BACA’s motto is “to empower children not to be afraid of the world they live in.”
The group has 29 chapters in Texas, and with the guardian’s permission, volunteers support a single child in court or outside of court. BACA will often have meet-ups with children that range from a group of seven bikers to as large as 175.
“The kids are usually scared of us when they first see us, I mean we are a group of bikers and can look kind of scary,” GPS said. “But after an hour they are riding on the bikes, holding our hands and having fun. A lot of times when we get to court they want to hold our hand when they walk in and not the guardian.”
On April 6, Kats for CASA held their annual balloon release in the SHSU mall area which represents children who have passed away from abuse and neglect. They set out tables to talk about abuse and neglect and to continue to raise awareness for the issues.