Mother spreads le­gacy

North Coast Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­ren Pi­lat

IN four years, Louise Clarke has spo­ken to more than 8000 young peo­ple but the one she longs to speak to and hug most is her daugh­ter Bron­nie.

Fri­day marked the fourth an­niver­sary of Bron­nie’s death and for Ms Clarke the dev­as­tat­ing pain is just as raw as when she lost her “dar­ling girl”.

Bron­nie died in 2014 from head in­juries sus­tained dur­ing a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent on West Coast Drive in front of her for­mer school, Sa­cred Heart Col­lege.

The 22-year-old, who was on the back of the mo­tor­bike her friend was rid­ing, is now re­mem­bered at the scene with a per­son­alised cross rep­re­sent­ing her “bright spirit”.

Her spirit also lives on with Ms Clarke, who shares her daugh­ter’s story through The Rip­ple Ef­fect: Bron­nie’s Story, an ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram help­ing high school stu­dents re­alise the im­pact of their de­ci­sions.

The Cur­ram­bine mother-of-three has pre­sented at six schools in­clud­ing Aran­more, Irene Mc­Cor­mack and Pren­diville Catholic col­leges.

Ms Clarke said Bron­nie’s Story started the con­ver­sa­tion about peer pres­sure and risk tak­ing, and “plants a seed” in stu­dents about how im­por­tant their de­ci­sions are in the heat of the mo­ment, es­pe­cially in what could be a risky sit­u­a­tion.

“I re­count what hap­pened the morn­ing of her ac­ci­dent, in­clud­ing the events lead­ing up to Bron­nie mak­ing the cat­a­strophic de­ci­sion which ended her life,” she said.

“I talk about the short­and long-term rip­ple ef­fect of Bron­nie’s de­ci­sion on her im­me­di­ate and ex­tended fam­ily and many friends.

“We talk about choices, con­se­quences and strate­gies for keep­ing safe. I em­pha­sise the im­por­tance of al­ways mak­ing care­ful, con­sid­ered choices in life; in­clud­ing al­ways choos­ing life it­self, no mat­ter what the cir­cum­stances.”

For Ms Clarke, retelling Bron­nie’s story was about help­ing young peo­ple and keep­ing her spirit alive while turn­ing a neg­a­tive rip­ple ef­fect into a pos­i­tive one.

“Four years on and I’m still dev­as­tated at the loss of my dar­ling girl… I think about her with ev­ery wak­ing hour and con­tinue to miss her ter­ri­bly,” she said.

“The grief is as in­tense as it ever was; I’m just learn­ing to live my life around it.”

Through The Rip­ple Ef­fect: Bron­nie’s Story, Ms Clarke also sup­ports home­less youth, a cause which was close to Bron­nie’s heart, by do­nat­ing the ma­jor­ity of pro­ceeds to char­ity, HD Street­wise.

Stu­dents are also given a card with Bron­nie’s art­work on it that they use to write the name and phone num­ber of their sup­port net­work who they can call for help any time day or night.

For more in­for­ma­tion, email Louise.Clarke@cewa. edu.au.

A me­mo­rial to Bron­nie.

Bron­nie and Louise Clarke.

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