Our program supports children to reach their full potential. This is a wonderful story of how one Pyjama Angel has had a wonderful impact on a child in care.
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.
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.
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.