Superheroes in pyjamas, not capes, for International Day of the Girl

06 October 2022 – Superheroes do not always wear shiny masks and fancy capes. Sometimes they wear pyjamas and slippers and provide the simple act of reading a book.

FCM Meetings & Events are passionate about bringing awareness to gender equality, and to the community-wide benefits of empowering and educating girls around the world and are once again getting behind UNICEF’s International Day of the Girl (IDOTG) on Tuesday 11 October.

“We're thrilled to be supporting one of the Flight Centre Foundations purpose partners, The Pyjama Foundation, who are changing the world, one child at a time,” said FCM Meetings & Events General Manager Simone Seiler.

“Every year that a girl goes without an education, is another year in which they fall behind. At FCM Meetings & Events, we strongly believe that the company that stands for something, is something – and this cause is something that we’re very proud to stand up for and support.”

“Everything we can do to raise awareness is a positive step towards creating a better future for girls, and all children, across Australia – from remote communities to the inner city.”

“That’s why we ask that you join us on Tuesday 11th October, to celebrate International Day of the Girl and support future generations of Australian girls.”

In 2020, FCM Meetings & Events, in partnership with SolarBuddy, produced the first International Day of the Girl event, ‘It's Now Girl’, which explored gender inequality, energy poverty, and access to education for young girls. The event raised over $10,000 for SolarBuddy lights.

“We’re incredibly proud that we’ve now been actively supporting and celebrating IDOTG for the last three years by raising awareness and funds with key partners,” Ms Seiler said.

“Our commitment to IDOTG was inspired by a purposeful alignment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)#4 Quality Education, SDG#5 Gender Equality, SDG#7 Clean Energy, SDG#13 Climate Action, and SDG#17 Partnerships for the Goals by using our platform as leaders within the MICE industry to influence positive change, starting with girls.

“Our mission was to leverage our event expertise, supplier and corporate partnerships, and our voice to make people think, feel and act for good. To walk the talk. We’re delighted that we get to do that again this year with The Pyjama Foundation.”

The heroics of the Pyjama Angels – the volunteers behind the organisation – lie in fighting injustice through the simple act of reading books to children in foster care, playing educational games and helping with homework. The impact of these small acts of kindness has been phenomenal.

The harsh reality is children in care have the lowest education outcomes nationally. The numbers are frightening: 92 per cent of children in care have below average reading skills by the time they are seven years of age.

It is a struggle for them to catch up, and as a result, 75 per cent of care children do not complete year 12. Even worse: 35 per cent of children end up in the juvenile justice system.

Founder of the Pyjama Foundation, Bronwyn Sheenan, decided that it was time to change those statistics. Her ambition took root when she met an incredible foster parent with over 100 kids under her care.

“I visited her home, and my heart was broken into tiny pieces when I met an 18-month-old baby boy who just entered care, arrived with no possessions, and had hand marks on his tiny body,” she said.

The concept Ms Sheenan devised is simple but powerful. Through the Love of Learning Program, the Pyjama Foundation is helping disadvantaged youth living in foster care and residential care improve their learning skills.

The ‘Pyjama Angel’ volunteers are trained and matched with a child in care and spend time with them once a week focusing on learning-based activities.

“I called the organisation The Pyjama Foundation because we traditionally read to our own children at night in our pyjamas. Everyone is equal when they wear their PJ’s. And everyone loves wearing your PJs in public,” she said.

The results to date:

  • 1,416 children are supported every week
  • 714 Pyjama Angels trained in the last year
  • 2 million books have read to children
  • 103,000 hours of support are provided per year
  • $3.7 million is the estimated value of volunteer hours in private tutoring.

“I love seeing how some of our long-term Pyjama Angels look at the children with the most amount of love in their eyes. There are so many proud moments: seeing our children succeed, finish school, get a part time job when they are 15, and eventually graduate from university,” Ms Sheenan said.

However, for Ms Sheenan to be able to reach her dream of helping each child in foster care, she needs a helping hand. Currently, the cost for the screening, training and placement of volunteers is just over $1,500 for each volunteer. Over 80 per cent of costs are driven by fundraising.

“That’s why we’re so thrilled to have a partnership with FCM Meetings and Events and the Flight Centre Foundation,” she said.

“This will allow the organisation to do what we do the best: attract, screen, and train beautiful Pyjama Angels from the community and place them with a vulnerable child for them to visit every week and empower them with education.

“That is when we get to see the magic happen. We get to see the relationships develop and we see the children, love learning, wanting to read and being more engaged in the classroom.”

Interested in becoming a Pyjama Angel so that you can help a child in care? Click here to volunteer.

To donate to the Pyjama Foundation so that you can support their incredible work, click here.

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