Superhero run to support S.J. foster kids
Seventeen hundred — the staggering number of foster youths currently in the San Joaquin County foster care system. Statistics from the national Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC) paint a grim picture for the future of foster youths. It’s projected that 50% of these children will not graduate from high school. One in 5 will be homeless after turning 18 years old. Furthermore, only 50% are employed by age 24, and 71% of young women will be pregnant by 21.
The foster care system often functions as a pipeline, says Shauna Buzunis-Jacob, development director at San Joaquin County CAPC. High-risk youth enter the community, and subsequently raise rates of unemployment and homelessness. Staff and volunteers of the San Joaquin County CAPC meet the needs of these at-risk children by providing programs focused on mentorship and advocacy. However, due to limited resources and minimal volunteers, they can only serve a small percentage of the foster youth population.
To increase awareness and garner more volunteers, the CAPC is hosting the fifth annual Superhero Run and Health & Wellness Fair this Saturday at Lodi Lake. The 5K run/walk
starts at 9 a.m., followed by a “Kids Dash” at 10:15 a.m. You can sign up online at nochildabuse.org/superhero.
Anyone registering on race day should arrive early.
Participants are encouraged to wear a superhero costume.
“It is a great way to educate the community, and it is also a great way to show the foster kids that this is the community coming together because we do support you,” Buzunis-Jacob said.
For kids who are only familiar with abuse, neglect and abandonment, showing support and genuine care can have a profound impact on their lives.
“Just think of your very worst day, or your very happiest day. Who do you run and tell? Your mom, your dad, your sister. What if you didn’t have anybody to tell,” Buzunis-Jacob explains of the loneliness foster youth experience. “And now we say ‘hey, we can be your community.’ ”
The funds raised during the run will support the CASA program: Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA volunteers undergo a mandatory 30-35 hour training about the foster care system, cultural awareness, and how to be advocates for foster youth. They are appointed by a judge, and commit to 18 months of meeting with their youth at least once a week.
“A lot of foster families can get overwhelmed when they have a child that has maybe had a lot of trauma or special needs,” says Jami Alexander, foster parent and director of family services. “So it is a huge help to have the outside person (CASA volunteer) coming in and helping to decide what the best path is for the child.
Alexander says that some funds go to assisting CASAs with out-ofpocket expenses for experiences that most of us take for granted. Experiences such as swim parties, roller skating, holiday festivities, and even seeing the snow for the first time.
If running isn’t your superpower, you can still support CASA by cruising through the Health and Wellness Fair where you can meet with local dentists, gyms, and public health groups. And don’t forget to stroll down Superhero Alley, where families can enjoy free fun with live entertainment, games, and a photo booth.
Children run during the CASA Superhero Run last October at Lodi Lake. This year’s run will be held on Saturday at Lodi Lake.