What it Means to Ride Alongside
Mandurah Acting Sergeant Tara Brown recently participated in the 2021 Ride Alongside.
This year’s event was a 580km bike ride from York to Hyden to Collie to raise awareness about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The ride aims to foster a culture of mental health awareness within Emergency Services personnel and demonstrate the benefits of good mental health.
In a reminder that life doesn’t only happen at work, A/Sgt Brown’s involvement in Ride Alongside was prompted by a personal tragedy. “My baby daughter Polly died in 2009,” she said. “At the time I was already a serving police officer. She was my first child and was stillborn at full term. I was devastated by her death. At the time, I turned to physical exercise to help cope with the emotions that come with grief and loss. For me it became a pillar of strength.”
A/Sgt Brown said her first involvement with Ride Alongside was in 2019. “I wanted to do something positive in Polly’s memory and also to speak to others about the importance of looking after your mental health, particularly through physical activity. Personally, I loved the physical challenge of doing something I didn’t think I could achieve, and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. Secondly, my participation in the ride and sharing my story and motivation prompted important conversations with my colleagues, often initiating dialogue about their own personal struggles.”
During the 2021 event the riders met with police officers, SJA and SES staff (most of who were volunteers) along the route, opening conversations around the importance of self-care and ‘looking out for your mates’, while promoting the positive relationship between improved mental wellbeing and involvement in physical activity.
“My experience of grief is part of the fabric of who I am, it impacts on how I live my life and how I do my job. I choose for it be as positive an influence as possible,” A/Sgt Brown added. “I’m always happy to chat – please just give me a call.