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#PlayItForward Spotlight on Pajama Program

We are thrilled to introduce you to our Winter #PlayItForward Partner, Pajama Program. Pajama Program is an incredible organization with a mission to promote a comforting bedtime routine to all children to help them thrive. Read on to learn more about how sleep impacts every area of a child’s development and how the Pajama Program is working tirelessly to support families across the country during this challenging time, and always.          

Pajama Program's mission is to promote a comforting bedtime routine to all children to help them thrive. Since 2001, you’ve delivered 7 million “good nights for good days” to children facing adversity by providing new pajamas and storybooks. Education is a key component of your offerings. Can you tell us about the resources you offer educators, parents and caregivers? How has COVID-19 impacted the work that you do?

Pajama Program recently launched sleep health education as an offering with the July 2020 acquisition of Sweet Dreamzzz, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Detroit, MI, with a 20-year history of bringing holistic sleep health education to classrooms and community organizations throughout their region, as well as in other cities in the United States. Now, as part of Pajama Program, the education continues and bolsters our work to reach children facing adversity and impact their lives with the tools, support, and resources they need to get a good night’s rest.

Our evidence-based sleep health education programs are tailored to early childhood and elementary school children and offer curriculum training for teachers, in-class workshops for children, and workshops for parents, caregivers, and other social services providers. The model offers knowledge and understanding about the importance of sleep as well as actionable steps for children to take as part of their own comforting bedtime routine. We recently began rolling out virtually delivery of these programs in order to continue the work despite the limitations of the pandemic.

Adequate sleep impacts every area of a child’s development. Can you describe the “24 hour good day loop” and the significance of a comforting bedtime routine?

We believe a good day starts at bedtime. The 24-Hour Good Day Loop is a visual representation of a child’s day from bedtime through to the impact a good night’s rest has on them the following day, namely, reducing anxiety, building resilience, and preparing children to focus and learn in school. Particularly important this year, sleep also helps strengthen the immune system and protect against illness.

We were impressed to learn that Pajama Program reaches children in all 50 states, including Puerto Rico. We’d love to learn more about your national initiatives and how they impact children and their families.

Pajama Program partners with over 4,000 community-based organizations across the country to reach the children in their care, these are our “Community Partners”. These organizations range from homeless and domestic violence shelters to foster care agencies to Head Start programs and Title 1 schools. Eligible organizations receive a range of support, from pajamas and books to sleep health education programs. We also operate centers in NYC and Atlanta for Community Partners to bring the children and spend time reading with our volunteers, as well as receive a new pair of pajamas and a book to take with them.

We have an incredible network of volunteer Chapter Presidents who manage local networks across the United States, including Puerto Rico. They focus on distributions from local and national donors to the Community Partners in their regions. The National Office also handles distribution and sleep health education program coordination wherever we don’t have volunteer coverage.

What can someone do to support Pajama Program?

There are a lot of ways to get involved with Pajama Program!

Individual donors are our main source of support, so making a donation has an immediate impact on our work. You can donate online here: give.pajamaprogram.org

We are currently hosting virtual reading events, powered by our amazing volunteers and corporate sponsors. Volunteers record themselves reading stories and those recordings are made available to the children in our network through a secure portal.

When it is safe to reopen, we welcome volunteers to read with children at our locations in NYC and Atlanta.

For someone who would like to donate their time year-round, becoming a volunteer Chapter President is a great way to get involved in bringing Pajama Program to your local region.

Anyone who would like to get involved should email us at info@pajamaprogram.org.

By bedtime, many parents feel overwhelmed and exhausted. What advice do you have for families who are struggling to maintain a consistent, positive bedtime routine?

The most important thing to remember is that a good routine looks a little different for everyone. There is no “right way” to do it. Setting up a routine should be manageable for children and families, so planning steps that are actionable for one’s circumstances is a great start. The exception to that is... the first step in everyone’s routine should be to turn off electronic devices! Give the brain some time to wind down!

We hear feedback from parents and caregivers all of the time that once they got the routine into motion, it really saved the day (or night!) for everyone. Kids are well rested, parents have time in the evenings to wind down themselves or catch up on things from the day, so they can get a good night’s rest too!

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