I have recently become involved with the Pyjama Foundation, a QLD based foundation which was established to give children in foster care the opportunity to change the direction of their lives with learning, life skills, and confidence. Over the past 10 years, the number of children in out-of-home care has risen significantly, with now more than 51,000 children in foster care in Australia. These children have been removed from their original homes when they have been unable to live with their families, due to child abuse, trauma and neglect. They are some of the most disadvantaged in our communities when it comes to education and work outcomes, with over 1/3 entering the juvenile justice system and many others becoming homeless.
The Love of Learning program partners volunteers or “Pyjama Angels” with a child in care with the aim to spend 1 hour a week providing support to that child and focusing on learning based activities. The activity can pretty much be anything that encourages a love of learning and is catered to each child’s interests. The Pyjama Angel becomes a critical support person and in many cases, is the only person in that child’s life who is not being paid to spend time with them.
I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into, but I completed the training and became an official Pyjama Angel in February 2019. Since that time, 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.
If you have a few bucks to spare, please consider donating to this life changing cause. Your money will go directly to the Love of Learning program, which will help to train and match Pyjama Angels to the over 800 Queensland children in foster care who are currently on the waiting list. Every bit helps to create a brighter future for kids in care. Also, if you are interested in becoming a Pyjama Angel yourself, please feel free to reach out to me directly or read more here: https://thepyjamafoundation.com/volunteer/