Many of us would never know there are currently 40,000 children across Australia who have been placed in foster care.
These children have been removed from their homes for their own safety, and have often missed out on many positive experiences life has to offer. But one woman is trying to turn their experience into a positive one through her work with The Pyjama Foundation.
The Pyjama Foundation was founded in by Bronwyn Sheehan, who was determined to make a difference and it’s no wonder she was named Queensland Australian of the Year in 2009.
But now Bronwyn is asking for your help, and that’s why I caught up with her to see what we can do as a community.
As you know, Bronwyn, I love the Pyjama Foundation and what they do to help out kids in foster care. You have ‘Pyjama Angels’ reading to kids in foster care all over the state now, but you’re doing something special in a few weeks…
That’s right, we’re doing something special this Christmas — we’re taking the children and their foster carers away on a holiday! We’ll have fun with the kids and pamper the carers!
It’s being held at Tallebudgera on the Gold Coast, which is why I thought I should get on board and help, given that it’s in our backyard. But there is a cost involved, so you’re wanting a little bit of help to fundraise.
What we’re looking at is taking 40 children and their carers and families. It costs about $500 to take one person away on the camp and this is a really unique opportunity for these kids because they hardly get holidays, the foster carers rarely get a break and when we did the camp last year and we took 35 children from our program and their foster families it was just truly magical.
This year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary and celebrating the joy that our volunteer Pyjama Angels and our ‘Love of Learning’ program have brought to the lives of so many special little people. And so that’s why we would love to take more, but we need monetary help. We’re just asking for $50 donations, which you can give here.
That’s great, because when you hear $500, you think, “Oh, how can I afford that?” But if 10 people each throw in $50, there’s one child having their first holiday.
It’s wonderful and last year was very therapeutic for the foster families. You know, these children often feel isolated because they’re a kid in care, but for a whole week it was normal to be a kid in care because they were surrounded by a whole lot of other children who really got and understood their story.
Children in care come from a background of trauma and have a number of challenges to face because of this. Issues with trust and building stable relationships are two consequences of trauma and their life circumstances that we often see. The activities presented to the children throughout the camp challenged these, with activities often being unachievable if there wasn’t team work and trust in those supporting you, for example.
All the children really encouraged each other and cheered each other on. They even were very encouraging of The Pyjama Foundation staff. It was a memorable experience to see and hear the encouragement, support and kind words and gentle push to make sure that all challenged themselves and were able to reap the rewards of the experience.
The other obstacle for foster children is that they are the lowest educational pool of children in the country and now there’s 40,000 of them in foster care. 10 years ago when I started there was 20,000, so we really need to do something as a community to wrap our arms around these kids and empower them with education. I believe we can change the direction of their lives if we empower them with literacy and numeracy.
We’ve got our first kid from our program in university this year. She went into care when she was 10 and she thinks she had between 10 or 12 foster care placements in that time. Her Pyjama Angel Annie stayed with her all through high school and she was the one person she could trust, she was her biggest fan and this year, God Bless her little socks, she’s at university at QUT doing a double degree! So you know we have changed her life around and really that was because she had a Pyjama Angel with her.
I just love your work, Bronwyn. You are amazing, and I hope this helps you out a little bit!
For more information on the Pyjama Foundation and to donate, visit thepyjamafoundation.com.