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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.

Townsville Grammar School gets wacky and tacky for kids in care

Students from Townsville Grammar School have held a Wacky Tacky fundraiser in support of The Pyjama Foundation. Together they raised more than $600 to support children in out-of-home care.

Students and staff dressed up in their wackiest outfits for the last Friday of Week 8. Everyone was encouraged to wear bright clothes and bring even brighter smiles. The school community certainly delivered, with glitter and neon outfits to boot.

Townsville Grammar School captain of the junior school’s community service team Chloe Langtree organised the event. With the help of her fellow students, Chloe passionately got her school community board as a way to give back to her community.

“I chose to support the Pyjama Foundation, because I found what they did really helped the community.

The volunteers don’t get paid, and yet they turn up to help children in need,” she said.

“A Foundation like this one definitely deserves a cheer, and they have my full support. Dedicating fundraiser to them was a way of showing it.”

Townsville Grammar assistant head of junior school Chris Gray said it is important to foster  sense of community as part of the culture of the school.

He also acknowledged the need for students and staff to have fun and bring “laughter and smiles” to the school community.

“The last couple of years have been particularly more about FUNraising as we had the flood last year and now COVID-19,” he said.

“Days like these also go a long way to bind us together as a School community and to build on the sense of pride we have for each other and our School.”

If you’d like to find out more about holding a fundraising event to support The Pyjama Foundation, please click here.

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.

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!

 

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.