Im a former English teacher, currently working in the world of galleries, museums and cultural services. More importantly I'm a dad and husband on the lookout for family friendly activities.
Published June 5th 2014
Something rewarding to do for 1 1/2 hours a week?
Looking for a good way to spend an hour and a half a week but don't want to do the same old same old? Or maybe you want to be involved in a funky fundraiser? Ever dreamed of wearing your PJ's to work or school for the day? Maybe you also have the desire to help kids? Then read on, something below could be for you.
Let's start at the beginning with a quote from the founder of the Pyjama Foundation. "The reason I started The Pyjama Foundation is my oldest daughter Kate went through primary school with a child in care. I met her foster carer and I was blown away by her commitment to these children. This lady had been a carer for 30 years and had had over 100 children in her home..... I knew in that moment that I wanted to do something for kids in foster care."
What she did was start a program of reading to Foster kids. Volunteers give up just one and a half hours per week to read books and engage with kids in foster care, giving these kids a little extra attention just for them and helping them gain some important skills. There are approximately 39 000 children in foster care in Australia. These children have often missed out on many positive experiences life has to offer and have the worst educational outcomes of any group of children in the country. Statistics also show that 92% of children in foster care have below average reading skills by the time they are only seven years of age, and it is a struggle for them to catch up. The single most important activity you can do to improve a childs literacy skills is to read books aloud to them. So that is what The Pyjama Foundation does through their volunteer Pyjama Angels.
If this means something to you then there are several ways to help.
1) You can give them money. Boring but very important for them to keep going.
2) You could be part of a fundraiser and organise for your work, kids school or any other group to wear their PJ's for a day to raise money. Hey, any excuse to slob around in PJ's all day must be good, and raising money for a good cause is just the icing on the cake.
3) If you have the time and the desire you could do something really amazing for these kids and become a Pyjama Angel yourself.
If this interests you but you are worried about the wheres and whens, then don't. This is all worked out between you and the foster carer of the child you are matched with beforehand, so if only certain times work for you then this can be negotiated. They also make an effort to find someone within your area, so there should not be excessive travel.
Ok so what if you are thinking that you can read to your kids, or you think you could read a story, but not like this to a child you don't know in someone else's home? Don't worry about this either. Once you let them know you are interested they will help you decide if this is for you and give training and ongoing support to get you going.
More information on all of these options can be found on their website.
If you need any more convincing I leave you with this.
"The first time I met Helen I was 4, and I was a bit scared but now I am not. Helen means a lot to me, well more than a lot. She is a remarkable person and I feel very lucky to have someone like her come out to teach me new things like making cool things and playing games. Helen is my friend and I love talking to her, she is a good listener and when she goes on holidays she sends us post cards." Sam 10 years.