Walks to Remember across Australia Almost 2000 members of the Sands community came together at 13 Sands Walks to Remember across Australia during October. Bereaved families in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Melbourne, Adelaide, Bunbury and Perth gathered to publicly acknowledge their babies who have died and spend time with other families who share a unique understanding. National Manager of Community Engagement Kate Cowmeadow said these special events are only possible because of the extraordinary contribution of Sands volunteers 9especially our Walk organisers), fundraisers and local communities. “The Walks are a bit like the old stone soup story. We start with the idea of coming together during International Pregnancy and Infant Loss month and volunteer organisers and their local supporters add various vibrant ingredients to create beautiful, family-friendly events.” “It is also fabulous to see the ideas and touches that have been shared between Walk organisers from all over the country. It’s lovely to think of the colourful pinwheels raised in memory of babies from far north Queensland down to Melbourne and Adelaide and across to Perth and Bunbury.” “If anyone is interesting in supporting a Walk in their own local community next year, I encourage you to get in touch as soon as possible. A lot of preparation goes into the Walks, but Sands will be here to support you”. Please email Kate Cairns - organised by Tania The Cairns Walk had a theme of “symbols” this year and the beautiful poem I Heard Your Voice in the Wind Today was a perfect match for the symbol of colourful pinwheels held aloft in m Sands Dad and Speaker of the Queensland Parliament Curtis Pitt was a guest speaker. Their family’s fundraiser, the Ride for Isabel, has helped support the Cairns Walk for 10 years. Attendees at the Walk loved the inclusion of a father’s perspective. Townsville - organised by Kate & Rebecca The Townsville community gathered early on the lovely Strand waterfront to beat the North Queensland heat. Vocalist Taylor Fitzgibbon shared her extraordinary musical talent in a way that moved many families and local volunteer Rebecca Carter spoke eloquently about pregnancy and infant loss and identity. A number of kind, well-meaning people have told me not to let my stillborn baby Finley define me - but he does define me. He is not the only thing that defines me, being a friend, daughter and partner defines me and yes being mother to a son who is no longer here also defines me. I am not ashamed of this, nor am I living in perpetual sadness and grief, I laugh and yes I cry, I am learning to walk with the grief and honour him in the ways I can. Mackay - organised by Carmen The Mackay Walk to remember has grown significantly over the years and has been recognised by participants as a beautiful family-friendly event. Loved the different variety of things for everyone including kids along with adding an item of our baby was super special. [The most important thing was] just being able to attend in honor of our daughter. We will keep the day clear every year. Just for her. Rockhampton - organised by Hayley The Rockhampton Sands community really embraced the pinwheel for their second annual Walk to Remember including amazing pinwheel cookies which helped to raise close to $1000 for Sands on the day of Walk. The pinwheel ceremony was lovely … [as well as] the most import thing was being all together Bundaberg - organised by Kelly The Bundaberg Sands community continued to come together in mutual support for their third annual Walk to Remember hosted by local organisation T.G’s Legacy. Many participants reflected on the meaning of adding to the memorial artwork established last year and displayed between Walks at the local hospital. The tree of life memorial artwork enabled both a living community memorial to be added to and also acknowledgement of the value of each 'lost' child to their family and community for remembrance. Sunshine Coast - organised by Adam & Karen This year’s Sunshine Coast Walk to Remember returned to the gorgeous Maroochy Botanical Gardens with the Walk talking in the stunning sculpture gardens. [The most important part was] awareness for newly grieving parents that there is support. Sunshine Coast community members can find local support on a monthly basis at the Buderim Support Group on the first Thursday of each month https://www.sands.org.au/queensland Brisbane - organised by Ashleigh The Sands community in Brisbane gathered under blue skies and a stunning jacaranda tree. Families enjoyed time together before the service, a chance to meet other members of the community or reconnect with old Sands friends. The pinwheel ceremony was beautiful, but the general gathering was the most important to me. Gold Coast - organised by Michelle A small intimate group gathered at Cascade Gardens on the Gold Coast. Volunteer photographer Rachel Weber also volunteers for Heartfelt and feels a special connection with Sands families. A participant said [the most important thing about the Walk is} an opportunity to grieve in a safe space with other bereaved parents and not feel uncomfortable Toowoomba - organised by Sarah Queensland’s newest Walk, established this year, drew a significant crowd in the regional centre of Toowoomba. Despite the drought, it was still a beautiful Walk through a rose garden in this renowned city of gardens. Participants feed back that one of the most important things was being able to say their baby’s name at a local event for the first time. To hear my grandson's name and remember him in this special way and respect for all the other families going through similar losses. Adelaide - organised by Jess Adelaide families braved a wet afternoon to gather for the early evening Walk to Remember which culminated with being able to see Adelaide Oval lit up pink and blue for International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Bunbury - organised by Heidi Western’s Australia’s first regional Sands Walk to Remember builds on groundwork laid by local organisation My Little Luv’s previous Walk, and a Sands 24/7 event in 2016 with 100 people registering and the event being very well received. The [paper] butterfly display was a great idea. Loved receiving the pinwheel and bubbles, my kids enjoyed them a lot. Music was great and was amazing hearing some people’s stories. Great council representation. Perth - organised by Lea & Clare In Perth Sands worked in Partnership with Red Nose for this year’s Walk to Remember. Attendees have feed back that they were very pleased to come together at this special event with the ceremony being especially well received. Beautiful ceremony, not too long, not too short, not too heavy, had a celebratory vibe to it, honouring those babies we've lost [We liked] The guest speakers, the candle lighting ceremony and the walk itself and the pinwheels! Melbourne - organised by Margaret The Melbourne Walk to Remember is a vibrant community event which translated well to the new location in Footscray. [I value] being able to do something beautiful (ie. a scenic walk) in honour of my babies and to spend some time with them, donate to SANDS and be around other bereaved families.