GIPPSLAND’s Biggest PJ Day certainly lived up to the name, with 38 schools and more than 6000 kids participating in the charitable event.
The event was on Friday, September 9 to raise awareness and money for A Better Life for Foster Kids.
Schools joined many other businesses and organisations across Gippsland in wearing pyjamas and learning how to support foster children and carers.
St Thomas’ Primary School, Sale, had a packed assembly in the morning, featuring Andrew Williamson from the organising committee for Gippsland’s Biggest PJ Day.
Mr Williamson explained to the children how a child becomes a foster child, and the challenges that they face.
“A foster child is a child living in out-of-home care, they’re living with someone caring for them because their parents just can’t care for them at the time,” he said.
He explained how the idea of Gippsland’s Biggest PJ Day was conceived, with pyjamas being an item of clothing that made foster kids feel comfortable and secure when living with someone other than their parents.
The students were shown a video developed by the committee in conjunction with A Better Life for Foster Kids, with founder Heather Baird talking to Mr Williamson in a recorded discussion about the organisation and explaining how it supports foster children.
Mr Williamson and other participants from the charity, and the Gippsland Community Leadership Program, visited other schools throughout the day, speaking to children and showing them the video.
St Thomas student Charlie, wearing her panda pyjamas, was a big fan of PJ Day
“I like PJ Day because everyone gets together, we wear comfy clothes and have fun,” Charlie said.
“And I like pandas.”
Fellow student Pyper was sporting pyjamas with cartoon drawings of her much-loved avocados.
“We’re wearing pyjamas to raise money for the foster kids that are living with carers and not with their family,” she said.
St Thomas deputy principal Allison Arnup said the children brought in donations for the cause, raising more than $400 that morning.
“We’re really pleased to be supporting A Better Life For Foster Kids and raising awareness, as well as funds,” Ms Arnup said, dressed in her blue oodie.
An assembly was held in the afternoon for Maffra Primary School, where Mr Williamson once again made an appearance and talked to the kids.
“So, who this morning rolled out of bed, did a yawn, forgot to brush their hair and went straight to school in their pyjamas?”
Most students, and a couple of the teachers, raised their hands with a laugh.
Ms Baird also showed up to present the same video about the organisation and explain how to support foster children.
“These kiddies aren’t any different from any other kiddies,” Ms Baird said in the video.
“It’s just that their circumstances are different.”
Maffra Primary School teacher and junior school council leader Byron Sandeman said the school had raised money for the cause.
“And we’ve had a discussion in the classroom about what A Better Life for Foster Kids is about,” Mr Sandeman said.
Almost a dozen primary schools in Wellington Shire took part, including Nambrok Denison, Sale (545), St Mary’s (Sale), Stratford, St Michael’s (Heyfield), St Patrick’s (Stratford), Woodside, Seaspray and Gippsland Grammar St Annes.
“The involvement of the many primary schools across Gippsland, and the support of the broader community, in making this day a great success has been incredible,” Mr Williamson said.
Each year, A Better Life for Foster Kids provides crisis cases to about 1600 children entering care, to ensure their needs are taken care of with dignity, and to relieve the mental and financial burden of carers.
If you would like to make a donation in support of Gippsland’s Biggest PJ Day, go to abetterlifeforfosterkids.org.au