CASA of Santa Barbara County plans simulated race
Ultimately, not even a pandemic can stop these ducks.
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County will host its second annual CASA Ducky Derby despite COVID-19.
“With the pandemic restrictions in place, we can’t hold the CASA Ducky Derby LIVE and have all the fun of racing 20,000 ducks down a giant slip ’n slide, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun with ducks and still raise funds to serve children in our community who have experienced abuse or neglect!” CASA said in a news release.
The race is set for Aug. 1.
Last year’s race took place at the CMT Ranch in Orcutt. To digitally recreate the annual event, participants will adopt a digital duck for a donation of $5, and on race day, the animated ducks will compete in a simulation that will imitate a live Ducky Derby.
So far, more than 3,000 ducks have been adopted for this year’s Ducky Derby out of CASA’s goal of 20,000.
All of the derby’s proceeds will go to CASA of Santa Barbara County. Its website explains its mission is to “assure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for every abused and/or neglected child by providing a highly trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system.”
The winner of the derby will receive $5,000. The second-place winner will receive a San Diego Family Fun Getaway (ground only), and the third place prize is a custom Santa Maria-style barbecue grill.
In addition to prizes, another way CASA is making its virtual event fun is by introducing the #challengedbyfoster Duck Dance Challenge this year, where groups and individuals dance off against CASA’s mascot, Foster, to raise money for CASA.
According to CASA’s news release, “You can join the fun and help us raise money for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) by posting your own challenge to Foster on social media or you can help by ‘adopting’ a duck!”
Kira Cosio, CASA’s associate director of donor engagement, told the News-Press that CASA just recently finished its busiest year, serving 532 children.
Mrs. Cosio said CASA is serving more children than ever before and has about 150 children on its waiting list.
“Throughout this whole pandemic, our volunteers have not quit at all,” Mrs. Cosio said. “Really, we haven’t slowed down. What has increased is the need.”
To keep up with the growing need, Mrs. Cosio said CASA has changed the way it carries out its mission by adjusting its day-to-day practices.
To do this, CASA has been meeting with kids at least once a week by hosting virtual visits and at-home visits, during which the CASA representative talks across a lawn to the child.
CASA also has given care packages.
“Everyone has been just working to make sure that the kids that we know remain safe,” Mrs. Cosio said. “It’s not just CASA (that is) involved. It’s all the parties that are affected by this by not being able to meet in person and grow those relationships.”
To meet the growing need, CASA has implemented a new training program known as CASA University, where trainees take classes at their own pace to become CASA volunteers. The program was created with the help of California CASA.
Once the volunteer trainees complete their at-home classes, they will finish their training by participating in four live sessions limited to only five volunteers at a time.
“We’re always really careful when we do our training,” Mrs. Cosio said. “The last thing that we want to do is rush that volunteer process or put someone through who isn’t ready to make that commitment.”
Going forward, Mrs. Cosio said that with schools and sports being shut down, more children are being put at risk because many times teachers and other adult role models are the ones who discover and report at-home abuse.
Mrs. Cosio encourages people to report abuse incidents during this time when teachers, counselors and coaches aren’t around.
“Right now with schools closed and things being shut down, we’re worried about our kids.”