The Pyjama Foundation Blog

Read about our latest adventures and glean some tips and tricks about helping children to grow, learn and flourish – it’s all here on The Pyjama Foundation Blog!

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.

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?

Brisbane black tie gala enhances the lives of children in foster care

TUXEDO’S and ball gowns will be flocking to QUT’s Room Three Sixty on October 12 with one very important mission at front of mind.

The Pyjama Foundation’s annual Big Dreams Gala Ball raises crucial funds to support its Love of Learning Program, providing a learning mentor to vulnerable children in the out-of-home care system.

This year is extra special for the Foundation as it celebrates 15 years of changing the direction of children’s lives.

Queensland Minister for Child Safety Di Farmer congratulated The Pyjama Foundation on its 15th birthday.

“There is nothing more important to help kids learn to read and write than reading to them, and I cannot overstate the value of the work that The Pyjama Foundation does together with their volunteers to make sure kids in care get that same great start in life,” Ms Farmer said.

“To everyone associated with The Pyjama Foundation during the past 15 years – founder Brownyn Sheehan, staff, and their army of Pyjama Angels – thank you for being important adults in children’s lives.

“You have made, and continue to make such a difference in thousands of children’s lives.”

Ms Farmer encouraged Queensland’s corporate community to support the Pyjama Foundation’s Big Dreams Gala Ball next month.

“Attending the Gala Ball is an easy way to assist this wonderful organisation to recruit, screen, train and support more volunteers to help more children build their life skills and confidence so they can take on the world,” she said.

Many businesses across Queensland have already pledged their support for the evening donating incredible prizes to help the Foundation raise vital funds to continue its important work in the community.

Prizes include accommodation in Australia and internationally, experiences such as paint and sip and mini golf at Brisbane’s incredible Victoria Park complex and a state-of-the-art trampoline from the team at Vuly.

The Pyjama Foundation founder and CEO Bronwyn Sheehan said she was humbled by the support the event had received already and was hopeful this year would raise more funds than ever before.

“Attendance at our Gala Ball always leaves people with the most special, magical feeling that they are really doing something important to change the direction of a child’s life,” she said.

“It’s so much more than just a chance to get dressed up, attendees here first hand from the children and carers they are supporting and the impact our Foundation has made on their lives.”

Currently, there are more than 48,000 children in foster care in Australia, with more than 9,000 here in QLD.

The Pyjama Foundation currently mentors more than 1400 of these children nationally and feels it is only scratching the surface of the level of support it can provide to kids in care.

Statistics show without early intervention such as The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning program, many children in the system will not graduate grade 12 and face heightened statistics of homeless and juvenile detention.

To support the Foundation at their Big Dreams Gala Ball and help turn these statistics around, please purchase a ticket via: https://tiny.cc/BigDreamsBall

 

Please contact events@thepyjamafoundation.com for more information on sponsorship opportunities.

Dedicated volunteers across the nation honoured for supporting kids in care

Empowering children to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve their goals is a special gift few people get the opportunity to give in their lifetime.

But those like our 12 Pyjama Angel of the Year winners of 2019 are afforded the opportunity to share in this gift each and every week.

This year our winners absolutely stopped us in our tracks with their commitment, love and ownership of their Pyjama Angel roles.

We’ve heard some remarkable stories about their time together, from learning to shave to riding a bike and everything in between.

In New South Wales, our winner Julian Bowker had entered the life of the young man he supports at a tumultuous time and despite having to put up with a lot, always “persevered with patience and compassion”.

“As A’s caseworker, I have had numerous conversations with Julian around supporting A in any way we can,” she the child’s case worker.

“Julian’s advocacy and determination is second to none and is of great benefit for not just A, but for everyone involved.”

 

Megan Guenther and Julian Bowker of NSW

Back in Queensland, we had the opportunity of honouring another special Pyjama Angel who has been part of our family for more than 11 years.

Brisbane’s Karen Cutlack was placed in a home back in 2008 where she remained throughout many years, supporting more than 40 children in this time.

The foster carer she has supported throughout this time said every child she came in contact with, “loved her, trusted her and respected her”.

“Karen knew all of the kids well, their strengths, weaknesses, everything.” She said.

“I don’t know how she does it. She knew how to treat them all individually but also altogether too. She has a magic gift.”

The Pyjama Foundation Founder and CEO Bronwyn Sheehan said knowing people like Karen and Julian were ready and waiting to make a difference in the life of a child in care was one of the reasons she founded the Foundation 15-years-ago.

“People like Karen make me all the more committed to continue this vital work and reach the thousands of children in care we are yet to support,” she said.

Ms Sheehan said the Foundation is always looking for new volunteers to come on board. There are so many children to help support, all desperately awaiting their arrival.

“We love welcoming new volunteers, however if you would like to support but don’t have time to visit each week a donation is just as significant in ensuring the sustainability of our Program,” she said.

Congratulations to all those who were honoured at this years Pyjama Angel of the Year Awards. Including: Sandra McNally of Toowoomba, Gillian Vaughan-Jones and Jean Shaw of the Gold Coast, Ann-Maree Paynter of Ipswich, Lisa Crompton of Gladstone, Moya Mullins of the Sunshine Coast, Robert Shaw of Mackay, Natasha Jones of Logan, Alisa Patterson of Cairns, Phil Wilson or Melbourne and Lesley and Bev of Townsville.

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!