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Wednesday 23 September 2020

Guest Post: Matt Cronin on Changing Lives from Tragedy: Pat Cronin Foundation

Robyn and Matt Cronin
As we are about to launch a set of three story books for primary-school-aged children, it should be an exciting time. But it is tinged with sadness when the reason for publishing the books relates to the death of our youngest son, Pat.

Born in 1996, Pat made our family of five complete. Pat’s older siblings, Emma and Lucas, doted on their baby brother despite having to share the limelight with him. As parents we could not have been happier.

Pat grew up surrounded by love with both sets of grandparents, a set of great grandparents, many uncles and aunties, and plenty of cousins. Our house was always a welcome place for friends.

Playing football, cricket, tennis, basketball was greatly enjoyed by Pat and he loved going camping with family and friends. He was also bright kid who always excelled at school. This meant Pat was just like so many other kids in so many other families across Australia, until one day he wasn’t.

Pat Cronin 2015 Best & Fairest medal
In April 2016, when 19-year-old Pat was in his second year of university studying to become a physiotherapist and forging his way playing senior football, Pat went out for what was supposed to be a quiet night at a local café/bar. When one of his mates was attacked, Pat did what we raised him to do in such a situation and went to drag his mate away from trouble. That’s when he was cowardly struck from behind.

Pat wasn’t knocked out and he didn’t lose his feet, and soon after the fight stopped, Pat was walking and talking with his friends totally unaware that the coward punch had fractured his skull and he had a bleed on his brain.

Two hours later Pat had a seizure and was rushed to hospital. Two days later we made the agonizing decision to turn off his life support.

Pat had his whole life ahead of him. He had dreams, he had goals and he would have made a difference in the crazy world we live in today as a qualified physiotherapist.

After saying our tearful goodbyes to Pat, our families, friends and communities rallied around us as only good people can and they (together with our wonderful memories of Pat) inspired us to establish the Pat Cronin Foundation.

The Pat Cronin Foundation has developed into a professional not-for-profit organisation with a multidisciplinary board; a dedicated and committed team, and a strong strategic plan that guides us towards our vision of a society free of Coward Punches.

We honour Pat in everything we do, and we provide an optimistic voice to end the Coward Punch through education, awareness and research and by helping people feel empowered to make wise decisions.

We know it is very important that from the earliest possible age, children are taught and learn to understand that physical aggression is never okay and teachers and parents need fun, engaging and entertaining stories to help them to do this. By using fun stories, we can start opening discussions on rough play and emotions with children as the first steps in violence prevention. It’s instilling a positive attitude that kids can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

To assist us with our Be Wise Education Program, the Pat Cronin Foundation has launched three inspirational and touching story books written for primary school students that we hope will be shared with every young student in Australia. Each book includes teacher notes and classroom activities to embed the desired behaviours required.

The three books were written by our family friend Maureen Hyland who taught at Pat’s primary school and was inspired by Pat in creating the characters, colours and commentary. They feature wonderfully expressive illustrations by educational illustrator, Bruce Rankin.

For more information about the work we are doing with the Pat Cronin Foundation or to order a set of our story books please visit our website at www.patcroninfoundation.org.au

We will always be a family of five.

Be Wise

Matt and Robyn Cronin, Founding Directors of Pat Cronin Foundation and Pat’s Dad and Mum.

Published by the Pat Cronin Foundation, the three inspirational and touching illustrated story books are written for primary school-aged children and are designed to help educate young people in feeling empowered to 'Be Wise' and never use violence.

Each book includes a story around Patch, a boy who goes to Searchers Road Primary School, starting with him in early primary, mid primary and upper primary. Teacher notes and activities that are age specific are included at the back of each book and via a website link.

The story books form a critical part of the Foundation's Be Wise Education program by introducing children to its important messages of 'Be wise, think carefully and act kindly'.