Meet Kimberly Ngo – New Sydney Team Member

 

 

We sat down with our new Sydney Events and Placement Support team member, Kim Ngo, to find out why she chose to join The Pyjama Foundation’s team (family), and to know what drives her, and other fun little tidbits!

Why did you apply for the role of ‘Events and Placement Support’?

I had been working in Advertising for many years and wanted so desperately for a change to do something more fulfilling. I had also trained to be a Pyjama Angel last year so I was already in love with the organisation and what it stood for. So naturally, when this opportunity came up, I jumped at it.

 What do you love most about your job (so far)?

That it’s meaningful and I feel like I can contribute to something worthwhile. I’ve also only been here for a short period of time, but everyone I have met has been extremely positive and welcoming. I feel like I’m surrounded by genuinely nice people.

What challenges are you currently facing? (And how are you working to overcome them)

Probably just wrapping my head around the role and industry. Also to not get teary and cry at literally every story I come across!

 What are your goals for the Sydney region/ branch of The Pyjama Foundation?

To recruit as many volunteers as I can and as such, place as many children as I can.

 What are you passionate about? / What drives you?

To create social change and to help others. To make my family (and myself) proud about what I do and accomplish.

 What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love food, so I’m often either cooking or eating – there’s also nothing better than a big glass at the end of the week. My cheeky four year old nephew is also my favourite person, so I like to spend time with him too.

 What are your favourite places to visit in Sydney?

My parents’ home for my mum’s cooking! Or around Newtown and Surry Hills for some good food and cute bars. You’ll notice there’s a bit of a theme here with food…

 What’s your favourite quote?

While there’s life, there’s hope.

 What’s a fun fact about you that you’d like to share?

I’m obsessed with horror films and have probably seen most that are made from the last two decades.

 What’s your favourite children’s book?

Does Harry Potter count?

Thinking outside the box: fun and resource free activities to enjoy!

Staying fresh with new and exciting activities can be difficult on your weekly visits. In order to nurture a creative spirit within your child, simple educational yet fun games are often the way to go. Utilising minimal, if any, resources is the best way to get our little ones thinking. These allow to have an enjoyable and entertaining experience that works in any environment with as little or as many players as possible.

We believe these are the best go-to games if you’re ever feeling stuck for ideas or equipment, but still looking for a fun time!

  • I Spy

A tremendously easy yet addictive detective game that involves guessing an object in the vicinity chosen by another player. Provide an adjective about what you see and watch as the other player attempts to find it.

  • Story together

Start with an intriguing first sentence, then have fun with the plot as you take turns narrating each sentence of the story, making it up as you go!

  • Charades

Only requiring a pen and paper, Charades is the perfect game to act out an idea or concept without making a sound. Once an idea has been selected, you or your team have three minutes to guess what charade you are acting out. If your team is able to guess your charade, your team receives a point. The other team then gets a chance to score a point. This continues until you run out of ideas, where, at this point, the team with the most points wins.

  • Remember what you see

We LOVE this one. Challenge your child’s observation skills in this quick memory game! Choose a direction that should be stared in for 30 seconds, then have the child turn around and write a list of the names of everything they remember seeing in that direction, the more detailed the better! The player with the longest list wins.

  • Scattegories

Scattegories is the ultimate simplistic yet challenging game that demands quick thinking and speedy fingers. Played using a pen and paper, this search for words requires players to provide an answer for each category. The game starts from a specific letter, and within a predetermined time limit (e.g. a minute). Possible categories include girl name, boy name, animal, movie, country, food, etc. The child will score a point if no other player matches their answers. So yes, the most unique and creative responses merit the most points. Continue with different letters for as long as you like and to win the game, score the most points!

  • The Uhm game

Test their conversational ability. The Uhm game requires the child to be given a topic, object, idea or thing to describe. Players must speak about this ‘thing’ for as long as they can without saying the word “um”. The longer the child can go without accidentally slipping it in, the better! Warning: it is very tricky!

 

For more hands-on activities to try out with your kids, check out our arts & crafts, science and fun food blog posts!

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.

Meet Zoe: Creating a Brighter Future for Kids in Care

 

 

This is Zoe. Not only is she a Pyjama Angel, visiting a little 10 year old boy, she has also signed up for Pyjama Day and has created her own fundraising page – managing to gain support from her workplace to raise much needed funds for kids in foster care! We spoke to Zoe to know why she signed up and why it matters to her.

 

Why did you decide to sign up for Pyjama Day?
I signed up for Pyjama Day because I realised I could help. I knew I’d at least generate some interest among my friends and family, but also thought I could try and go one further and get the OK to fundraise more broadly in my workplace. I did this by stealing 5 minutes in my Executive Managers weekly meeting and walking into said meeting in my dressing gown and slippers. I then proceeded to tell them the story of my friend J* and how he and many other children are in these situations through no fault of their own, but there’s things we can do to help.

 

Are you planning to do anything exciting in particular on the day? Like a Bake Sale or morning tea?
I have made it very simple. Wear your dressing gown or slippers to work for a gold coin donation. This is simple enough that anyone can do it – even in a corporate environment, as it is easy to change bank into corporate attire for meetings! But it still sends a powerful message and gets peoples attention. It’s also a bit of fun and such a great idea in the middle of winter! Little did I know that I’d also receive support from colleagues offering to make food and sell it as part of the fundraiser. It all starts with an idea!

What made you sign up to become a Pyjama Angel?
I wanted to contribute more as a human being. I thought, have an hour I can spare each week and I can read!” Something so small can mean a lot to people, particularly those who don’t have the support we often take for granted.

 

What’s it like being a Pyjama Angel and can you describe your placement with the child?
I have been paired with my little buddy, 10-year-old J*. J is in residential care, which means he really doesn’t have much consistency when it comes to the people that are in his life.  J likes dinosaurs, transformers, Lego and make believe. Like many kids with autism, he has trouble with his communication (which is where I come in). We have only had 5 visits so far, but we’re already at the stage where he comes running out to greet me with a big smile when I arrive. I can tell that he enjoys our visits and it is definitely the most rewarding part of my week.

 

You can support Zoe and help her reach her fundraising goal of $500 by donating here or you can sign up your workplace for Pyjama Day by heading towww.nationalpyjamaday.com 

Healthy & Fun Food Activities for Kids!

Critter Crudites

We’ve found some super fun ways to use healthy food in creative ways for your next weekly visit. These easy and fun healthy food activities are a great way to use food with your child. Not to worry, these ideas use things you most likely already have lying around.

We believe these fun food ideas are a great way to spend quality time together where the little ones can prepare healthy food in a fun and creative way.

 

Vegetable Train 

This fun activity is great for little ones that love trains.

Fruit Animals

Does you little one have a love for animals? Try these fun food activities. Watch the strawberries and bananas transform into a lizard and an apple into an owl.

Creative Food Art

For those who want more of a challenge these food activities are for you. Let the kiddies creative flare shine with over 40 creations, from strawberry roses to fruit peacock.

Owl Veggie Tray

As we always say sharing is caring. Creating this healthy veggie tray with your little one is a great way to make snacks the rest of the home can also enjoy.

Critter Crudités

Take ants on a log to the next level with these adorable and healthy snacks.

Food Face Plate

Get creative with these fun food face plates. Your little ones could even create a food face self portrait.

Veggie Building

This is a great food activity for kiddies who love to build things. With a variety of food options to use the sky is the limit.

Food Art

There are so many different ways to create with food. These activities include simple shapes and patterns and can be created with healthy fruits and veggies!

 

If you give these a go with your little people, please let us know! We love hearing all about our wonderful Pyjama Angels’ activities on their visits. For more activity ideas, check out our blog posts for craft and science activities for all ages!

 

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!

 

Letting creative flare thrive! Arts & crafts for every age

Nurturing your special little ones’ creative spirit is especially important. We’ve found some super fun craft ideas that you can do on your next weekly visit to spark imagination and creative play. Don’t worry, we’ve made sure these ideas use things you probably have lying around at home. This means no special tools are required.

We feel these super fun craft sessions are a great way to spend quality time together where the little ones can explore their creative passions.

Rock painting (Ages 3-7)

This arts and craft activity means you and your little one might have to explore the great outdoors for a while. The kiddies can let their imagination run wild and create ANY type of rock pet. Create anything from lions to lady bugs to even fish!

Microwave puffy paint (Ages 4-9)

Microwave puffy paint is a fantastic way to combine art and science! Watch the artwork puff up and grow in a matter of seconds.

Fire breathing dragon craft (Ages 4-7)

Bring a fire breathing dragon to life with this adorable little craft! This simple project only needs some old toilet paper role, tissue paper, poms poms, and most importantly, googly eyes.

Bubble painting (Ages 5-9)

There’s something so magical about making bubbles. This is the perfect outdoor arts and craft activity that the kids will love when you come over for your visit.

Water colour salt painting (Ages 5-14)

This one is sure to be a hit with the younger creative geniuses. Panting with the salt is like magic – it creates intriguing and interesting textures and patterns.

Paper plate sewing craft (Ages 7-12)

These cute little insect sewing projects are a great way to begin teaching children how to sew. The best part of this project is that the craft is adaptable for kids of all ages so everyone can get involved in this one.

Origami faces (Ages 9-16)

Get really crafty with this cool and quirky project! The creative little ones can try and make an origami version of all their favourite people, book characters or super heroes.

Origami corner bookmarks craft (Ages 9-17)

Here at The Pyjama Foundation, we absolutely love our books and love reading them even more. This clever and cute little DIY craft activity means you can always pick up exactly where you left off and never lose your place.

Stomp rocket (Ages 12-17)

This rocket uses the power of compressed to launch high into the sky – future engineers, take note: this is called pneumatics. After you’ve launched your rocket, just blow into the tubes to inflate the bottle once again and have another turn. So much fun!

 

For more activities to try out with your kids, check out our science and healthy food activity posts. Don’t forget to tell us all about it!

 

Find your Calling this National Volunteer Week

For not-for-profits, the hours given by each dedicated volunteer are quite often a large part of their success.

It’s because of the hard work of selfless people who make a commitment to change a life which allow children in foster care to believe in themselves and their dreams.

This National Volunteer Week, there are so many reasons to say ‘thanks’ and honour those who give their precious time to others.

We absolutely rely on our Pyjama Angels. After we recruit, screen and train these generous volunteers, they are matched with a child in foster care. They then commit to visiting the child once a week to inspire a love of learning.

Our founder and CEO Bronwyn Sheehan said it was these incredible people who allowed her to build The Pyjama Foundation from the ground up. These people believed in her mission from the start and continue to give their time – some 14 years later.

“After all these years, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing human beings,” she said.

“I have shared their tears, as they cried for those little people they cared for so deeply.

“And I have shared their happiness as they beamed with pride sharing their successes.”

How you can help

Bronwyn said her hope is to continue inspiring the community to join The Pyjama Foundation family.

“As we have grown, so have our waitlists,” she said.

“We currently have hundreds of children across the country waiting for a Pyjama Angel to come into their life.”

Becoming a Pyjama Angel offers just as much for the volunteer as it does for the child, with many commenting on the fun and fulfillment it brings to their lives.

For more information on how to volunteer, please head to our volunteer page at www.thepyjamafoundation.com/volunteer.

Inspiring your little scientists: experiments for every age group

We all know our special little ones are creative little geniuses. They’re always experimenting with something so we’ve found some pretty mind-blowing and hands-on science experiments that you can do on your weekly visit with them. Best of all, they all use things you probably have lying around at home.

We feel these super-easy science activities are a great way to spend quality time together where the little ones are exposed to a wide variety of scientific concepts.

Rainbow milk experiment (Ages 4–16)

Learn about surface tension with this fun experiment. This is possibly the easiest and most beautiful science experiment out there!

Elephants toothpaste (Ages 4–16)

What happens when you mix peroxide, food colouring, water, dish soap and yeast and wait for two minutes? You get elephants toothpaste!

DIY lava lamps (Ages 4-9)

Talk about a groovy project! This fun science experiment is sure to impress – make a lava lamp by pouring vegetable oil into water, then sprinkling salt on it to make the blob of oil move.

Instant cloud science experiment (Ages 7-16)

Learn how to make a cloud in a bottle, instantly! If you’ve ever wondered how real clouds work, try this experiment.

Use lemon juice to make invisible ink (Ages 5-16)

Who doesn’t like to pretend like they’re a secret agent? Write secret messages to your friends and try to get them to decode them. The trick? Holding it close to any source of heat – like a candle or incandescent light bulb.

Mixing primary colours to make secondary colours (Ages 2-7)

This is a super fun way to show the kids how primary colours mix to form secondary colours. Because water and oil don’t mix, the kids can see how the primary colours separate back after they’ve been mixed around. For this fun project, we use water which is coloured by regular food colouring and baby oil which is coloured by oil-based food colouring.

Crystal rock candy on string

Making rock candy means the little ones can actually see the shape of tiny little sugar crystals on a magnified scale. Giving them lots of time to grow means they’ll form much bigger! you can eat these pretty little things once they done or you can keep them. What a yummy and beautiful experiment!

Electromagnetic train (Ages 9–16)

We had no idea that electricity and magnetism were so closely linked! You can build your very own miniature electromagnetic train by experimenting with the two materials.

Forced perspective photos (Ages 5-8)

Thought you could never stand on top of The Big Banana or ride The Big Cassowary? Well, you can make anything look possible with forced perspective photos!

Sink or float? (Ages 2-7)

Gather some of the kids favourite toys, plus things from around the house and garden and have the kids guess whether they object will float or sink.

Egg heads (Ages 2-9)

How cute are these eggheads? Plant grass seeds in an empty eggshell and watch their hair grow! You should see sprouts in a few days that you can style any way you want.

 

For more ideas on how to incorporate fun in your visits, check out our arts & crafts and fun food blog posts!

 

Carers influential in allowing kids in care reach full potential

Eight years ago, foster carer Penny Hallett’s desire for equal opportunities for all children saw her dedicate her life to providing care.

Inspired by her experience as a volunteer for The Pyjama Foundation, Penny and her husband began to explore the idea of becoming foster carers.

In 2008, Penny’s journey began when she was matched with a young boy in care through the Foundation’s Love of Learning Program. Together they played educational games, read stories, built confidence and set the child up to be much more than what life had given him.

Penny went on to mentor another young girl, where she met a foster carer who had cared for children for over 40 years and inspired Penny to explore becoming a carer herself.

In 2011, Penny and her family embarked on the process and became full time foster carers.

This Foster and Kinship Carer Week we celebrate the wonderful people in our community just like Penny. People who are opening up their hearts and homes for children in out of home care.

“As a volunteer with The Pyjama Foundation, you are able to form a positive relationship and encourage a love of learning,” she said.

“We would read books together, sometimes we would go outside and enact the stories that sparked their imagination, or just jump on the trampoline and laugh a lot.

“The children I mentored and have in my home have the most heart wrenching stories, but you know what, they just get on with it.

“Apart from all the ‘mum things’, I see my role as a Foster Carer as being my kids advocate until they can do that for themselves.

“I can’t imagine my life not being involved with kids in care, and I am grateful for the lifelong friendships I have made with other carers and all the wonderful staff at The Pyjama Foundation.”

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer congratulated Penny on her support for children in care, both as a Pyjama Angel and now as a foster carer.

“The men and women who volunteer to be foster carers are some of the kindest and most caring I’ve met,” she said.

“Penny has given some children who need some love and support her time, care and attention both as a Pyjama Angel, then as a foster carer.

“Penny’s opened her heart, and then her home. You really can’t underestimate just how life changing that kind of support can be to the children who are looked after by our carers.”

The number of children in the out of home care system continues to rise in Australia. There is now more than 9,000 children currently in foster and kinship care in Queensland.

Foster and Kinship Carer Week runs from 21-28 April and aims to celebrate and thank people like Penny for their continued work. These special people are ensuring the most vulnerable children have a loving place to call home.