Angels in the crowd
Each Cowboys home game, a Field of Dreams partner donates 30 tickets to a North Queensland community organisation to recognise their contribution, giving over 400 special guests a year the chance to see their Cowboys heroes live in action.
Saturday night’s North Queensland Toyota Cowboys home game against the West Tigers will play host to 30 ‘pyjama angels’ from Townsville’s Pyjama Foundation, thanks to the Cowboys Leagues Club.
The Pyjama Foundation is a national charity organisation, with local branches in Townsville, Cairns and Mackay, which aims to support children living in foster care by providing free learning-based mentoring by volunteers called Pyjama Angels.
Cowboys Leagues Club general manager Clint Williams said the club was proud to be able to give back to such a worthy local charity.
“We’re a community-focused club and being able to reward dedicated volunteers in our region is a special opportunity,” Mr Williams said.
Established in 2004, Pyjama Foundation founder Brownyn Sheehan decided to offer hope and a more positive outlook to children in care, after learning the statistics of poor literacy and numeracy levels of foster children often leading to a lifetime of disadvantage.
The Pyjama Foundation’s Townsville coordinator Melanie Vaughan said the Love of Learning program matches Pyjama Angels with a child in care with the aim of improving their learning skills, with 4,000 hours of free tuition offered in 2016 alone.
“We currently have 101 Pyjama Angels in Townsville visiting 103 children; they visit the same child every week for up to 1.5 hours to read books aloud, play educational games and work on their numeracy skills,” Ms Vaughan said.
“The volunteers are there to develop the child’s learning skills, and perhaps more importantly, demonstrate that the child is valued and loved.
“Our Pyjama Angels are passionate supporters of our local football team, the Cowboys, and it is wonderful to be able to thank them for their service with us.”
In her role as volunteer coordinator, Ms Vaughan says it’s very important to get the match between an angel and child right, and has seen the way the Cowboys can act as a common thread to help build a strong bond between Pyjama Angels and their child.
“One of our Pyjama Angels Bev mentioned in her application that she was a super keen fan of the Cowboys, and a Gold Star member," Ms Vaughan said.
"I paired her with a little 6-year-old boy, who was also a big fan. Bev went to her very first visit with two Cowboys hats, one for herself and one for her cherub to wear during her visits.
“From that moment on Bev and her cherub became firm friends – it’s great to see how the Cowboys can inspire young kids.”
For more information, visit thepyjamafoundation.com.