ELKTON — Kickball is a kids’ game.
But on Saturday, dozens of adults gathered on the softball diamond behind Pine Grove Market along Oldfield Point Road, southwest of Elkton, and played that very game — numerous times, in fact — with the gusto and glee of children.
Some fielders laid out for balls kicked in their general direction. There were slides into bases, albeit seemingly unintentional ones. There were some circus catches worthy of the highlight reel, including one in which a ball kicked into the air bounced off a shallow left-fielder, looking like a sure error — until an alert nearby player somehow snagged the ball before it hit the ground.
There were cheers from the the sidelines when teammates rounded the bases or someone kicked a screamer into the gap. There were high-fives and pats on the back. There was joking around, among teammates and with opponents. There was plenty of laughter.
The scene that played out on Saturday was the “Kickin’ It for Kids” Kickball Tournament, which was hosted by the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Cecil County. In sharp contrast to the fun competition, the event was held to raise public awareness that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“It adds a sense of levity to the situation,” CASA Community Outreach Coordinator Michael Welker told the Cecil Whig last week, explaining the strategy behind the kickball tournament. “Child abuse is not something fun to talk about. So we have to make it fun for people to talk and get engaged.”
Even the names of the seven competing tournament teams were humorous, such as The Foot Clan, the Miracle Workers (Cecil County Department of Social Services workers), The Caped Crusaders (CASA employees and volunteers) and The SAO Strikers (Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office prosecutors and support staff.)
The kickball tournament was fun, especially for The Foot Clan, which won the championship trophy. And according to Welker, the event drew a crowd that was better than expected, given the iffy weather.
But the cause is serious.
CASA received a proclamation from the County Council recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month, marking the council’s first proclamation in more than one year.
Founded in 2015, CASA works to train volunteers to serve as advocates for children in foster care during court cases. Volunteers receive 30 to 40 hours of training and get to know the child before representing their interests.
Child abuse prevention is essential for CASA because children who are in foster care have been placed into that system due to abuse and neglect. CASA currently has 73 volunteers who advocate for 77 children.
CASA has partnered with local businesses and churches to display its yard signs raising awareness for child abuse prevention month.