CASA pinwheel displays bring awareness to child abuse and neglect

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- To highlight Child Abuse Prevention Month, one non-profit in Rock Co. is looking to make a difference, one pinwheel at a time.

In front of the Rock Co. Courthouse, CASA of Rock Co. dispalyed 3,000 pinwheels, each one representing a case of child abuse and neglect reported in Rock Co. each year.

CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, work nationwide on behalf of abused or neglected children and provide a voice for them as they go through the court system. This past year, the Rock Co. CASA advocated for about 140 children within the county.

"The children are our future, so we are passionate about serving the kids the most vulnerable members of our community," said Kortney Karnok, the advocacy and program manager for CASA of Rock Co.

Karnok said every April, they participate in the national campaign Pinwheels for Prevention of Child Abuse.

Julie Geitzel is one of 55 CASA volunteers in the county. She said the most rewarding part is knowing she can make a difference in a child's future.

"I get to know everybody that is in that child's' life - anybody who has contact with that child, including things like their school teachers and so on and so forth. Get to know what the situation is, and I try to make a recommendation to the court as to what I think is in the child's best interest," Geitzel said.

Karnok said the need for volunteers is growing, and so is the garden. She said there are about 180 children on a waiting list in Rock Co. to get a CASA.

Karnok said one of the challenges facing Rock Co. is the growing opioid epidemic in the community, and they are seeing more cases of abuse and neglect being reported because of this.

"There is hope and all it really takes is one adult to make a difference in the life of a child," Karnok said.

For more information on how to become a volunteer click here