Pyjama angels help Gladstone foster kids feel confident
YOU might be surprised to learn 92% of Aussie kids are below the average reading level at age seven.
It was these eye-opening statistics that brought about a volunteer organisation, which is making a big difference in the lives of foster children across the country, including those in the Gladstone region.
The Pyjama Foundation began in 2004 and has been operating in Gladstone for a little more than a year, already with amazing results.
The charity aims to break the cycle of disadvantage experienced by Australian children in foster care.
The Pyjama Foundation recruits, screens, trains and supports pyjama angels - volunteer members of the community who work with the children and support Australia's foster families.
FRANK Van Rensburg first heard about the Pyjama Foundation and its angels through his work at Rio Tinto.
"I didn't know how I'd go," he said. "But it's something I thought I'd be good at."
The 23-year-old has been a pyjama angel for about a year.
Every week, he visits two six-and-half-year-old boys who are in foster care.
Frank said he got enormous satisfaction from spending time with the boys.
"I like seeing them develop, watching their confidence grow," he said.
"I want to show them that people are there for them who care."
The weekly visit usually takes about an hour.
"We usually centre the activity on learning. We might read a story of do an experiment together."
Foster parent to the two boys, Leanne King, first heard about the Pyjama Angels through the carers' line.
"When I heard they were starting up in Gladstone, I was the first one to put my hand up," Leanne said.
Both her foster children love their weekly visit from Pyjama Angel Frank.
"They run out to the car every time he arrives," she said.
"Frank is now part of the family."
Leanne said it's about showing children that they can have stability in their life.
She encourages other foster parents in the region to get involved with the Pyjama Angels.
"It's really good," she said.
"Do it, it's for the children."
"My boys love it; they count down the sleeps to when Frank arrives."
To find out more about the Pyjama Foundation, or if you are interested in having an angel visit your home, contact Gladstone Reads co-ordinator Lyn Hughes on 0433093482, or email lyn@ pyjamafoundation.com.