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.
Last Friday, September 14, 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 behind her former school, Sacred Heart College.
The 22-year-old, who was on the back of the motorbike her friend was driving, 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, and spoken at the RAC bstreetsmart event, and the Rotary Youth Camp.
Ms Clarke said Bronnie’s Story started the conversation about peer pressure and risk taking, and “plants a seed” in students of 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 short- and 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.