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Help support children in care this Christmas

Kiarna’s story

“I strongly believe I wouldn’t be as strong as an advocate for myself without having had a Pyjama Angel”

These are the inspiring words of 19-year-old Kiarna… a young woman who grew up in foster care who has faced more adversity than anyone ever should in their early years… who now has the dream to help change the life direction of other children, just like her.

Kiarna was only five years old when she went into foster care. At five years old, life was already so unstable, confusing, and chaotic… but it was all she knew. Her biological mother had struggled with bipolar disorder, and could not give Kiarna the attention and care she desperately craved.

If her childhood wasn’t already challenging enough, it took a heartbreaking turn when her mother died from a drug overdose when Kiarna was just 11, and her father left the picture after the funeral. She has not seen or heard from him since. For an eleven-year-old, life felt lonely and hopeless, and sadly, this was all that she knew.

Living in foster care felt constantly busy with other children in the home, mixed in with appointments and child safety visits. Growing up, Kiarna felt safe, but she also often felt lonely and lost. She felt different from other kids and like she didn’t fit in.

She often questioned her identity and place in this world which no child should ever have to worry about, but this was Kiarna’s reality.

All of these unfortunate events lead to mental health issues for Kiarna which made her teenage years more turbulent.

Help us support children like Kiarna this Christmas by donating to our 2020 Christmas Appeal.

When Kiarna turned 13, an “Angel” was sent from The Pyjama Foundation. Her name was Dianne, and she reassured Kiarna that she wasn’t alone and that she was there to help guide her, mentor her and be there as a friend.

Dianne made a huge impact on Kiarna’s life. There were many life-defining moments but with her help, Kiarna managed to build her resilience and fight through everything that was thrown her way.

Dianne often read books with Kiarna, helped with homework and other schoolwork she struggled with. Mostly, she was a shoulder to lean and cry on, and an ear to listen to any of Kiarna’s worries or concerns. Life was better, and much more manageable with Dianne by her side.

As Kiarna got older, she became inspired by the work of The Pyjama Foundation and was in awe of volunteers, just like Dianne who wanted to help children in need and make a world of difference.

Now she wants to do the same for another child who may be going through what she went through.

Help us support children like Kiarna this Christmas by donating to our 2020 Christmas Appeal.

Santa swaps his sleigh for a limousine to visit Brisbane children in care

High profile celebrities are usually seen riding around in Premier Limousines’ luxury limousines, but this past Christmas some very special children were lucky enough to take a ride instead.

For many carers, Christmas can place a severe financial strain on their families; with many caring for upwards of five children at any one time. Carers so desperately want to ensure each and every child in their home is overwhelmed with joy on Christmas morning, as it’s often the reality that these children may have never experienced this magic before.

Each Christmas, The Pyjama Foundation team collects presents from generous community groups which are then given to children participating within its Love of Learning Program. This year they have teamed up with the very generous Premier Limousines to make Santa’s final visit before the big day extra special.

Our founder Bronwyn Sheehan said she’s proud to offer this special experience for these families this Christmas.

“It’s so amazing that we’re able to not only surprise these children with the appearance of Santa at their homes but also take them for a ride in a limousine, something they may never have the chance to do again,” she said.

WHY WE DO IT

Ms Sheehan said she wishes she could do so much more, with the number of children in care rapidly growing.

“Currently there are more than 48,000 children in foster care, and statistics show that approximately 75 per cent of these children will not complete high school,” she said.

“Many children in care bounce from home to home, and to difference schools which greatly hinders their ability to build relationships and meet learning milestones.”

The Pyjama Foundation recruits, screens and trains volunteer mentors, and then carefully matches them with a child in care.

Together, they focus on learning-based activities and games, with the aim of improving the child’s educational outcomes and confidence. Currently we are mentoring more than 1,400 children on a national scale with the hopes of expanding its reach in 2019.

To hire your own limo and feel like a star for an upcoming event or special occasion, check out our friends at Premier Limousines for a comfortable ride of luxury.

Every donation matched for 24 hours

 

Across Australia, more than 30,000 children living in foster care won’t graduate from high school. The effect of bouncing from home to home often results in failure to reach literacy and numeracy benchmarks.

For over 15 years The Pyjama Foundation has been actively working to change this. By recruiting and training committed community volunteers the Foundation can help children in care thrive.

Today is International Giving Tuesday. To celebrate, Direct Connect Australia and Prism Surgical will match every donation made to The Pyjama Foundation for 24 hours. Therefore, this will double the already incredible impact a donation makes to ensuring more children can be supported in 2020.

Foundation CEO and executive director, Bronwyn Sheehan, is blown away by the support for the Christmas Campaign.

“We are always amazed by the support received at Christmas, but this year has been made extra special with the opportunity to match all donations for one day only,” she said.

“This is a chance for the community to make an even bigger impact with their donation, and to help us change the direction of a child’s life.”

It costs $800 to train every new Pyjama Angel. By raising $40,000 in donations for the 2019 Christmas Campaign, The Pyjama Foundation will be able to train 50 Pyjama Angel’s and, above all, support more children in foster care.

 

HOW TO DONATE

Head to our Christmas Appeal to make a donation which will be instantly matched* and have double the impact on a child who deserves it most this Christmas.

*Up to the value of $10,000. Donations made on 3 December for 24 hours only.

Cowboys star inspires children in foster care with love of learning

When North QLD Cowboys footballer John Asiata isn’t on the field or with his family, you can often find him supporting children in foster care.

As a volunteer with The Pyjama Foundation, John is one of 1400 volunteers providing learning guidance, support and mentorship for kids in care.

This year he’s gone one step further encouraging his community to join forces for National Pyjama Day on July 19.

On this day each year, businesses and schools across Townsville wear their pyjamas to raise vital funds and awareness to support children on the foster care system.

In Townsville, this Program is made extra special with the addition of John, who moves between the homes of different children sharing the joy of sports with them.

One of The Foundation’s Townsville carers detailed just how special the interaction is for her children.

“All the children love spending time with their respective Angels because they feel that they are not being judged but accepted for who they are,” she said.

“A special mention to John Asiata who came out to see the kids. It was a buzz for the kids to have a game of footy with John.

“Toby* is a big fan of the Cowboys. John stayed for some time talking to all the children in our home and they asked a lot of questions and they listened to his stories.

“He is such a lovely individual who makes it that little more special. He is an asset to have on board and I know the kids are thrilled to see him.”

Founder of The Pyjama Foundation, Bronwyn Sheehan says the number of foster children is continuing to grow every year and without extra support, empowerment and encouragement, many of the children’s futures will be compromised.

“Currently there are more than 48,000 children in foster care, and statistics show that more than 30,000 of these children will not complete high school.

“Many children in care bounce from home to home, and to difference schools which greatly hinders their learning.

Funds raised from National Pyjama Day will go towards the recruitment and training of more Pyjama Angels as well as learning resources for the children including books, puzzles and educational games.

Last year more than 1,800 participants donned their Pyjamas and raised a total $250,000. This year we hope to continue growing this number and helping children in need receive the educational support they urgently need.

To get involved, register your workplace, school or group for National Pyjama Day at www.nationalpyjamaday.com.

Do it in your PJ’s

Do you want to support The Pyjama Foundation but you’re tired of all the basic fundraising techniques? Do you want to try your hand at something new and fun while getting your friends together to raise money for a good cause?

While we do have National Pyjama Day coming up on July 19th, we do love to hear about people who have thought outside the box to help raise much needed funds for kids in foster care. For this reason, we have put together this handy list of fun ways to support The Pyjama Foundation! Don’t forget to tag us in your photos at @thepyjamafoundation.

Surf in your PJ’s

You’ve got to be the bravest of the brave to take on the cold ocean waves during an Aussie winter, but it would make for a fun photo!

Host a footy/soccer/netball/basketball game in your PJ’s

If you play a social sport, try and get your team to play in their pyjamas for a game. Loosing team makes a larger donation? Go anywhere with this idea!

Pop up PJ fashion show

Pyjama fashion week anyone? Why not host your very own fashion show at your workplace, school or home? Encourage everyone to come in their favourite pyjama’s, ‘register’ their walk to your fundraising page, and get them to strut their stuff for a day of fun-raising!

Host a quiz night

Office quizzes are great fun, plus they’re a great team-building exercise! Charge teams a few dollars to enter the quiz and you’ll end the day with a tidy sum! Now there’s the matter of putting some questions together. The typical route is general knowledge, but why not mix things up and do something unique to your workplace or school? Get people to submit some fun and crazy facts about themselves, or maybe even baby photos and get your teams to guess who’s who!

Host a board game tournament

Bring out your old board games and hold a unique tournament fundraising competition. Whether it’s Monopoly, Pop and Hop, or Trivial Pursuit, people will have a blast reminiscing over some of their old favourites! If you’re a little more competitive, have people play against one another throughout the night and keep score so an overall board game champion can be crowned and receive a prize – even if it’s just bragging rights. Get your players to ‘register’ to your board game tournament by making a donation to your fundraising page.

Host a fun “night in”

Have facemasks, cheese and… (fruit juice?) at the ready and host a relaxed, laid-back gathering at your workplace, school or home (dress code: PJs, obviously) and ask guests to donate what they would typically spend on a big night out.

Neighbourhood movie night

Why not host a fun movie night in your backyard, at your school or at the local park. Invite all your neighbours and have them donate food, drinks and lawn chairs. Charge an “ticket price” of your choice, and let the fun begin!

 

We know not everyone wants to wear their favourite dressing gown, so why not consider a different theme instead?

Christmas in July

We can only dream of a white Christmas here in Australia… or we can celebrate it early with a kitschy Christmas themed event in July? Think winter wonderland or an “ugly sweater” party?

 

There are so many fun ways to show your support to our cause, it just takes a bit of brain power. We are just happy to have you on board, but it would be the cherry on top if you take these suggestions on board! Create a fundraising page here!

 

Our Big Dreams Gala Ball 2018

One week ago, we hosted the night of all nights — an evening of glitz, glam and giving back. Guests came from as far as Western Australia to celebrate The Pyjama Foundation’s Big Dreams Gala Ball and raise much needed funds for children in foster care. Attendees were met with some of Brisbane’s best views, with the balcony of Room ThreeSixty at QUT providing a perfect outlook to the Story Bridge and Kangaroo Point.

The theme for this year’s event was inspired by the very core values of The Pyjama Foundation — every child should have the opportunity to dream big and go far. Each child should be given the tools to follow their wildest dreams!

Children living in out of home care often bounce between different homes and to different schools, which can affect their opportunities to read and learn, causing them to fall behind their peers academically. Dreams are no good if they remain just dreams and the Big Dreams Gala Ball was for the 52,000 Australian children living in foster care, with a focus on letting them know that their dreams and desires are just as valid as the next child’s.

Our guests were met at the door with a 9ft angel pouring bubbly for each willing patron (see below if you don’t believe us!), live entertainment, a photobooth setup worth marvelling at and a constantly stocked candy bar. It was a magical start to the evening!

We were lucky to be joined by former and present Pyjama kids, as well as many of our Pyjama Angels who continue to inspire us every day. Senior Executive Director, Accommodation, Respite and Forensic Disability Services at Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors Matthew Lupi was the entertaining MC for the evening, surprising guests with dream themed trivia between meals. Matthew welcomed the Honourable Di Farmer, Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence to give a powerful address to start off the evening.

Guests were thrilled with the banquet-style dinner, flowing beverages and incredible prizes. Our token instant win mystery envelopes were a hit again this year, with everyone walking away a winner thanks to our incredible prize sponsors! Raffle tickets were available to purchase on the night with more amazing prizes up for grabs, those who won the accommodation in Phuket and the Lamborghini driving experience were envied by all!

Our live auction also went off with a bang thanks to our friends at Watt Realty who got the crowd rearing for our big-ticket auction items! Accommodation on the ski slopes in Canada, a stay in a five-star lodge in Queenstown, and a private chef dinner in your own home all sold at generous prices to those in the room.

The money raised on the evening will go directly towards our Love of Learning Program which aims to improve the educational outcomes of children in foster care, just like 9-year-old Frankie who spoke about his special Pyjama Angel at our gala. A few words from his speech on the evening:

“Cathy has been visiting me for almost five years. The things we do together are read, play sport, watch movies, play iPad games, play with kinetic sand and sometimes go to the skate park. We have dinner together every week,” he said.

“I look forward to Wednesdays. Every Wednesday I ask mum, ‘Is Cathy coming today?’. I like Cathy a lot.

“Thank you for helping The Pyjama Foundation, so kids like me can have a special friend.”

There was so much love, laughter and great acts of generosity on the evening, to which we thank each person who attended. It was truly a wonderful night and we are so thankful to have spent it with so many people who are crucial to our foundation.

Thank you for supporting The Pyjama Foundation’s Big Dreams Gala Ball, we couldn’t have pulled it off without your support and we hope to see you all again next year.