Our Black Dog Flies Sky High To Raise Awareness of Depression
When he set off on his original Black Dog Ride in 2009, the 15,000km solo Black Dog Ride around Australia to raise awareness of depression, Steve Andrews took a mascot with him, a black dog named in honour of the man who famously diarised about being hounded by "the black dog of depression", Sir Winston Churchill.
Since then, Winston the Black Dog Ride mascot has become an accidental hero, renowned across the nation for breaking down the perceived social barriers to conversations about depression, bringing out of the darkness a silent illness affecting millions of Australians.
The physical presence of a black dog, used as a metaphor for depression since antiquity, help people to define an invisible illness and helps to promote open discussions of depression, leading to better understanding and acceptance of mental ill health.
Young people are not immune to the charms of Winston. A small south west town in WA recently created an awareness raising exercise of mental health designed around Winston (more here), and the children of Kangaroo Island were ecstatic to meet Winston when Black Dog Ride visited in April (more here and here).
Black Dog Rider Graham, who participated in the April Black Dog Ride, took his Winston home where his wife, who teaches at a private school in Perth, took one look at the Black Dog Ride mascot and saw a great opportunity.
"The kindergarten kids needed a mascot that they could take on holidays and trips. After each trip they need to submit a one page outlining the trip," Graham says
"This page is then added to the class book for all parents and visitors to read. The first page of this book outlines who Winston is, including a photo of him sitting on the Harley in Nannup."
Not content with raising awareness on terra firma, Graham tells us that the children have taken Winston and his awareness raising capabilities sky high.
"Winston has visited Adelaide, Singapore and been up and down the coast of WA so far."
Let's hear it for Black Dog Riders, their fantastic families, and our accidental hero Winston, who is helping Australians of all ages start the conversation of depression awareness wherever he ventures!
You can get your hands on your own Black Dog Ride mascot Winston to take to work, for rides, or simply for the family, in the BDR Shop here and please don't forget to let the children know what you think of their adventures with Winston here.