Bronwyn Sheehan founded The Pyjama Foundation in 2004 to make a positive impact on the lives of our community‚Äôs most vulnerable children. Today her educational model has now had a positive impact on more than 8,000 children and continues to transform the lives of thousands of children in foster care.
Harnessing the power of literacy to transform the life path of vulnerable children
The Pyjama Foundation was founded to improve the educational outcomes of vulnerable children. With more than 48,000 children in out-of-home-care in Australia and 92% falling below the average reading level, Founder Bronwyn Sheehan developed a model. Currently more than 1400 children are supported by an army of committed volunteers, with a focus building a trusting relationship and increased literacy levels.
The Pyjama Foundation formed its Love of Learning Program based on the statistics showing more than 75% of vulnerable children in the foster care system will not finish high school due to educational disadvantage. In response to this, a specifically designed mentoring program was formed, with a focus on literacy, numeracy and life skills. Well-educated volunteers from the community are screened and trained before being matched with a child who they visit weekly within their foster homes. The volunteers implement educational play and inspire a love of reading, while offering a safe and trusted friendship for the child to grow. This relationship not only promotes self-confidence in the child but also self-efficacy ‚Äì the child‚Äôs belief in themselves. Our volunteers have the ability to show a child that if they try and persevere they can reach success now and in their future. In 2017, Founder Bronwyn Sheehan attended Harvard Business School, studying Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organisations, where the importance of evidence-based programs was highlighted. The Foundation has since engaged an Australian University to deliver a research project which informs its Love of Learning Program. External evidence already indicates the significant positive impact early intervention programs such as the Love of Learning Program have on improving children‚Äôs educational outcomes and self-efficacy, allowing children to build fundamental literacy and life skills. When children have the motivation and skills to learn, they become resilient, lifelong learners. Today, The Pyjama Foundation is operating across three Australian states and is mentoring 1400 children every week. This presentation will explore concepts such as: how to engage reluctant children in reading, the importance of positive, trusted relationships to enable reading magic and how to transform unwilling readers into reading aloud lunatics. The results are happy children and inspired volunteers reading 150,000 books each year.