Father’s Day has a different meaning to everyone, but for children in foster care it can be a reminder of what they are missing and how important it is to have a positive male role model.
Townsville’s Andrew Pangrazio, 30, was placed with an 11-year-old boy living in care four years ago after volunteering as a mentor ‘Pyjama Angel’ as part of The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning Program, which supports children in foster care.
The now 15-year-old aspires to become a mechanic and the weekly visits from Andrew where they practice hands on mechanical work was key to helping make this possible.
“My child has learning impairments and finds it easier to be working bikes or engines as it is his passion to become a mechanic,” the psychologist said.
“I try to combine as many instruction guides and manuals in our work to continue to work on focused reading.
“[He] doesn’t have many male role models in life so the male attention I believe has been healthy.”
The child Andrew visits is just one of the 95 children in care currently supported by a special Pyjama Angel volunteer in Townsville, a number the Foundation hopes will steadily increase with a total of 41 children currently waiting for a Pyjama Angel to come into their lives.
One of The Foundation’s Townsville carers detailed just how special this unique interaction is for her children.
“B* waited a long time for a Pyjama Angel and Alex is absolutely perfect for him, he turns up to B’s soccer games and cheers him on from the sideline which we think is absolutely brilliant,” the carer said.
Currently, 93 per cent of The Pyjama Foundation’s volunteers are female and moving forward The Foundation is hoping to see more male involvement.
As a carer of young boys with Pyjama Angel’s, she sees the importance of the positive male role models and the difference it is making for her boys.
“The world needs more male Pyjama Angels, so many boys in care have never known a positive relationship with a man,” the carer said.
“It’s time we show our boys that there are good men out there that genuinely care and want to help them learn and help shape the young men they become.”
Pyjama Angel Andrew believes helping others is a form of self-help, acknowledging that connection and meaning are all major contributors to psychological wellbeing.
“I would encourage everyone to join and I think males especially as not only will the kids benefit from having healthy male role models in their life, but helping others is helping yourself and is an important lesson to teach the future generation,” he said.
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 51,000 children in foster care, and statistics show that approximately 32,250 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 learning.”
Head to www.thepyjamafoundation.com/volunteer to see if you’re eligible to become a Pyjama Angel to help support and mentor a child in foster care.