"Handstand Challenge" for foster care - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

"Handstand Challenge" for foster care

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MADISON (WKOW) --  People are turning upside down to raise awareness for foster care.

Between 2015- 2016, Wisconsin saw a 32 percent increase in children being removed from their homes due to parent neglect from substance abuse.

The Coalition for Youth and Families is launching a handstand challenge to encourage more families to get involved with foster care. Dozens gathered on the steps of the Capitol in Madison wearing matching shirts reading "Turn a life around,” but they might have been hard to read unless they were flipped upside down.

The idea is to have people do a handstand to read the shirt. The Coalition said it’s about making a statement to help the nearly 8,000 Wisconsin kids in foster care each year. A demand that officials say foster families cannot keep up with.

"The challenge is fun and exciting, but we don't want people to lose sight of the fact we're doing this so we raise awareness,” said Oriana Carey, CEO with the Coalition for Youth and Families.

Richard Johnson understands firsthand the importance of raising awareness. He was in foster care for more than 20 years. Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Johnson said his parents could no longer care for him. He now accepts their decision, but said it was difficult growing up in different homes and struggling to find a family. After a handful of group homes, he ran away and ended up finding a family in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.

"They're a good family, but foster care is not something that you choose to be in,” said Johnson. “It's what your parents want to do because they feel it's better for you than being out on the streets."

The Coalition’s message is that people placed in foster care often have their lives turned upside down and this handstand challenge is trying to encourage more people to help turn those lives around.

Johnson said it's motivating to see people are trying to make a difference.

“It means a lot and it inspires me because most people don't care about kids, they don't care about what they go through,” said Johnson. “I have a three-year-old son and I wouldn't want him to be in foster care because I try to do everything to make sure he doesn't have to go through that.”

The handstand challenge was first created in 2011, which resulted in a 475 percent increase in parent information downloads at fostercarerocks.org. Volunteers are hoping to surpass that this year.

If your interested more information can be found here:  fosterparentsrock.org.

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