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It takes a village (or a North Queensland town…)

PEOPLE need people. Especially during times of great hardship and adversity. As COVID-19 is a continued presence in Australia we continue to see more and more communities band together to create light from such darkness.

Annually, The Pyjama Foundation celebrates its biggest fundraising event, National Pyjama Day. This year, planning and preparation has looked so different for registrants as they work to make their events happen in and around government restrictions. However, one thing that hasn’t changed, is their fierce passion to support The Pyjama Foundations mission to make a difference to the lives of children in care.

Margaret Milani is a seasoned veteran as far as National Pyjama Day is concerned. Backed by her colleagues at The Commonwealth Bank and the wider Innisfail community, they have hosted the Innisfail Annual Pyjama Party for four years running.

Margaret says the support keeps growing each year. Margaret was confident that this year’s celebrations would defy all odds. “Due to the COVID crisis it has been easier than usual for people to see the benefits in having something like this in our community,” she said.

Teamwork was in full swing to get everything organized before the 24th of July. Margaret describing the process as ‘footwork’. With the help of her colleagues save the date flyers were created, the streets of Innisfail were walked to get business’ onboard and the locals were informed via social media.

There was overwhelming support from local business and their customers in and around the Owen St precinct. The Commonwealth Bank, Woolworths, Optus, the Mellick Homemakers Centre, Retreat Beauty salon and the Sapore Di Italia café were among the many passionate registrants. A true reflection of community spirit!

We warmly thank these businesses and their customers for their generous participation and contribution.

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about!” – Margaret J. Wheatley.

Margaret sees the opportunity to celebrate National Pyjama Day each year as way to unite and contribute to a cause that the community considers so special. “I cannot even begin to put into words how amazing it feels to help kids in your own community and to just be part of something bigger than yourself and your own problems.”

The 2020 Innisfail Annual Pyjama Party had its largest turnout yet, raising an outstanding $2,600! The Pyjama Foundation is so grateful for your continuous passion, enthusiasm and generosity. We just know 2021 will be bigger and better!

Warm oven, warmer heart: Stacey’s desire to defy odds and make a difference this Pyjama Day.

AS Australia continues to brave the COVID-19 storm, community spirit and kindness can be just as contagious, as we continue to cope with these unprecedented circumstances.

The Pyjama Foundation has been preparing for its biggest annual fundraiser, National Pyjama Day, celebrated on July 17th. The aim of the day is to raise as much awareness and funds for the Love of Learning Program, so The Pyjama Foundation’s mission can continually be pursued.

This year’s planning has looked very different for us and our registrants. Many obstacles have crossed our path as we discovered new and inventive ways to fundraise. CEO and founder Bronwyn Sheehan said absolutely loves how innovative people are being during these unparalleled times.

Melbourne Pyjama Angel, Stacey Lowry is back celebrating National Pyjama Day for a second time, defying all odds in her pursuit to make a difference.

Stacey has been working with “Miss 14” for two years. She says she just loves her mentoring role; it is one of the most rewarding things she has ever accomplished.

Stacey was conscious that the option of hosting a social gathering wasn’t available this year due to Melbourne’s strict lockdown laws.

“Last year I had so much fun hosting a dinner and movie screening to raise funds, I just knew I had to step it up with something even better to bring some love and happiness during these uncertain times,” she said.

With the intention of bringing joy to her local neighbourhood all while raising funds for a cause she is so passionate about; Stacy exercised her imagination.

“I have been baking handmade sourdough breads & sourdough banana breads for my friends.  It’s been so hugely successful, that I am at my “baking capacity” for the next three weeks… Each day I bake, wrap and walk the neighbourhood hand delivering warm, baked treats to my friend’s front doors. It brings me so much joy seeing smiling faces at front doors across the suburb.”

Stacey continues to work with “Miss 14” on a week-to-week basis virtually all while channeling her inner Betty Crocker!

Stacey, The Pyjama Foundation would like to thank-you for your fierce passion, contribution and commitment to National Pyjama Day and your work with “Miss 14”.

Please continue to let your light shine!

Free Printable Resources for National Pyjama Day

National Pyjama Day is fast approaching! We’ve put together some free printable resources for your fundraising efforts, whether you’re baking cupcakes at home or asking for donations at the office. Make sure to tag us in your pictures for a chance to feature on our social media or website!

 

Donation Jar Label

We have 2 options for your donation jar available for download. Simply print this out, write down your goal and stick it on a jar of your choice – we like to put ours around a recycled coffee jar. This is a great way to collect gold coin donations on an office reception desk or a teachers desk.

Download Donation Jar Label – Simple.

 

 

Download Donation Jar Label – Party.

 

 

Cupcake Toppers

If you’re planning on baking some cupcakes for your pyjama party, make sure to use our super cute cupcake toppers! There are 12 cupcake toppers per sheet featuring 9 different Pyjama Day themed designs. Simply print them out and wrap them around a toothpick for an easy way to increase the cute factor of your cupcakes!

Download Cupcake Toppers.

 

 

Raffle Tickets

Holding a raffle is another great way to raise some extra money for your National Pyjama Day fundraising effort.  This tactic is especially useful for businesses – you could donate a voucher for your service or create a hamper of goodies, and tickets could be sold to clients and customers or offered internally to your team. There are so many ways to fundraise! Make sure you pop the extra details of your raffle on the tickets, including the prize you are offering and your personal campaign page.

Note: You will need to print these double sided, flip on long edge. We used fit to paper as the scale – double check your scale to ensure none of the ticket is outside the printable margins. There are 5 tickets per page.
When distributing tickets, cut off the pink stubs with the ticket holder’s details and keep. Give the white part of the ticket to the ticker holder for their reference.

Download Raffle Tickets.

 

 

Photo Booth Props

This is such an easy way to add an element of silly fun to your National Pyjama Day event! Print out these photo booth props and tape them onto skewers or paddlepop sticks, and share some silly snaps with your friends!

Download Photo Booth Props.

 

 

 

If you or someone you know would be a fun and positive influence on a child in care, please consider volunteering for The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning Program.

Together with their mentor, a child in foster care can learn valuable life-skills, confidence and self belief.

Indoor & Outdoor Scavenger Hunts for Kids!

Keep the kids entertained with our FREE printable indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts!

Avoiding boredom for kids can be very difficult, but it is very important to keep them stimulated and active. These activities prove that with a bit of creativity, you can have fun with everyday household items.

These FREE printable scavenger hunt sheets are bound to keep even the busiest of child entertained for at least twenty minutes. Add in the optional element of timing the hunt, or making it a competition with more than one child.

Our Pyjama Angel volunteers love to do activities like this with their children, especially at the start of their visit.

The Pyjama Foundation has found a lot of their volunteers have the most success completing more education-based activities after tiring their children out first – 10 minutes of activity = 20 minutes of quiet time.

Indoor Scavenger Hunt

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Are you likely to give these activities a go? Don’t forget to check out more of our ‘In Isolation’ activities for more fun ideas!

If you or someone you know would be a fun and positive influence on a child in care, please consider volunteering for The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning Program.

Together with their mentor, a child in foster care can learn valuable life-skills, confidence and self belief.

Fostering change: Behind Floriana’s desire to help children in care

As we find ourselves living through an unexpected and uncertain circumstance, I think it is so necessary to acknowledge and express gratitude for what brings love and light to our lives. 

This was the exact mindset that prompted me to embrace the unknown and try something completely new. In April of 2019 a significant chapter in my life closed, I found myself experience emotions I never thought possible (including that ugly demon heartbreak). I have always been somebody who embraces a challenge, craves opportunity and has a generous nature. However, at this point in my journey I felt completely deflated.

I distinctly remember a phone call had with a dear friend, former Pyjama Angel, Melissa Caccamo.

My gorgeous friend Melissa (pictured left)

Her words felt like sunshine.
She said “Flo, you need to find a way to divert all the love, positive energy and time you were feeding your relationship into something just as worthwhile’.

My friend reminded me of all the positive qualities I had to share with the world but had momentarily forgotten in the midst of sadness. Mel encouraged me to apply as a Pyjama Angel, give back to the community and be a ray of sunshine for a child who needed to be reassured that they are valued, worthy and loved.

Thank you for being my ray of sunshine that day and everyday Mel.


Without hesitation I applied that following day. Not long after I had my interview and attended training. I was shocked by the statistics around poor literacy and numeracy skills among children in care. However, I was more so enlightened, that spending only one hour a week with these children would help carve a positive outlook for their future.

Along the way I interacted with such passionate, likeminded and wholehearted individuals. The whole process just felt right. I knew that this was going to be such a special experience and I hadn’t even met my little cherub yet!

Typically, one Pyjama Angel is paired with one little person. However in light of embracing opportunity I was offered a dynamic duo, two brothers! I was paired with who I now like to call ‘Crazy number 1’ (aged 12) and ‘Crazy number 2’ (aged 9). I organically became ‘Crazy number 3’ (aged 23!).

My relationship with K&J began in August 2019 and the fun hasn’t stopped since!

Together we have;

  • Planted a vegetable patch

    My ‘magic bag’ of resources!

  • Made slime
  • Tackled puzzles and board games
  • Kicked the soccer ball outside
  • Read, researched and presented projects on their hobbies and interests
  • Completed homework (after lots of convincing!) and sometimes;
  • We just dance and sing like total crazies!

 

On a personal level, my passion for the non-for-profit sector and working with children has grown fiercely strong. I am also currently involved with The Pyjama Foundation team, working as a Marketing and Communications Assistant/Intern. This entire experience has prompted me to consider a return to university to study Youth Work. To nurture what I believe is my true calling!

Fostering a relationship with K&J has brought nothing but colour to my world. It helped turn such a dark and uncertain time into an incredible discovery of growth and opportunity. I feel grateful to be able to help these boys find a happier ending to their life story.


I thank The Pyjama Foundation for choosing me.

F xx

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.

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.

Helping Foster Children Stay On Task

“Concentration is like a muscle that requires regular exercise to strengthen. Some kids are born “stronger” in this area than others, but all kids can learn strategies and engage in practices that help improve their ability to focus and sustain their attention”

– Dr. Jamie Howard

Children in out of home care often lack interest in learning and find difficulty in concentrating and staying on task. With 92% of children in care below average reading skills by the time they are seven years of age and struggle to catch up, it is important as mentors to help our children build and train their ‘concentration muscle’.

Here are some tips for our Pyjama Angels to implement in visits to help their children stay on task.

1. Set A Plan

It can be a good idea to create a plan for your visits. At the beginning of your visit you can work with your child to write out a set plan for the visit. This gives both you and your child the opportunity to decide what you will aim to achieve within your visit.

2. Set Time Lengths For Tasks

When setting a plan or just completing tasks, it is important to set appropriate time lengths for specific tasks. As a Pyjama Angel, you will get to know the typical time length your child will concentrate and focus on a task. Use your understanding to set appropriate time lengths on tasks you aim to complete.

3. Use Timers

When aiming to complete a task for a specific time, it can be helpful to utilise timers or stopwatches. Clocks or stopwatches can provide a visual aid for children, and help them understand when a task will finish.

4. Planned Breaks

It is also important to ensure that you build in planned breaks. After spending some time concentrating, it is useful to take a break whether that be a small physical break such as throwing a ball around or trying a Brain Gym exercise.

Brain Gym

These exercises can be utilised if child become distracted or simply as a planned break. These small physical activities will re-engage the brain and can help a child re-focus on a set task.

* Brain Gym exercises adapted from margdteachingposters.weebly.com/thinking-processes

 

Incorporating these tips will hopefully see your visits become more productive and time efficient, though it it important to remember that every child is unique and requires different techniques. Be patient and kind and see what works best for you and your child during your visits.

If you ever feel stuck and need any assistance or tips, our team is available for a chat at 07 3256 8802 between 9-5pm Monday-Friday.