Supporting frontline workers via the 365 Campaign
The 365 Campaign is the brainchild of Victoria Police veteran Sandii Greaves and restaurant owner David Kapay, who have committed to move their bodies for at least 3.65 km every day for 365 days. The goal? To raise awareness of the mental health battles our emergency services face in the course of their work.
They’re currently over 350 days into the campaign, and have clocked up 1000's of kilometres between them – through a combination of walking, running and cycling.
A groundswell of ideas
The idea sparked in Sandii’s mind in late 2021. She was inspired by her former colleague and current Victoria Police member Glenn ‘Dutchy’ Holland.
“He set himself a personal challenge last year to do three kilometres every day for an entire year,” Sandii explains. “And he did it without any fanfare, sponsorship or publicity.
“Glenn was doing marathons and was the face behind the Fighting PTSD campaign, but he would still do the three kilometres every day. Sometimes he was up at three o'clock in the morning to get it done if he was on a day shift; sometimes he was running at 11 o'clock at night.”
On 30 December 2021, Sandii asked what Glenn’s plans were beyond the end of the year, as she couldn’t believe his personal project was coming to a close. She asked if she could continue the idea and turn it into a fundraiser.
“I knew at that point that I was also going to have a knee replacement. I was quite confident that I could get someone to do the kilometres for me while I was recovering. I also thought it would be an incentive to get back in the game really quickly, and get on and do the kilometres.”
A community of support
Sandii reached out to Executive Chef David Kapay, who owns Miss Amelie, a fine dining restaurant set inside Wodonga’s historic former railway station.
“I didn’t know him at all,” says Sandii, “but I like his restaurant and knew he played football and exercised daily. So, I sent him a message and we met on the second of January.”
David was immediately taken with the concept and the campaign quickly snowballed, with David suggesting they adapt the idea to 3.65km a day for 365 days.
“We decided on 3.65 km and that we’d get out and move our bodies however we could – walking, running, cycling, you can even dance down the street if you want to,” says Sandii. “The idea was born.”
They decided to raise money for the Emergency Services Foundation (ESF), and originally set a fundraising goal of $3,650. However, during David’s first TV interview, he suggested $36,500 on camera!
“Now it's out there we're trying to raise $36,500, which is incredible”, Sandii says.
The mental health toll on frontline workers
Having spent 10 years with the Victorian Police, Sandii is passionate about looking after the mental health of our frontline workers.
“ESF is the only organisation that is entirely dedicated to the prevention of mental health injury for Victoria’s emergency workers,” Sandii says.
“I’ve seen firsthand the mental health toll on emergency services workers. I think that we just keep expecting more and more from them.
“And at some point, that well’s going to run dry – how do we attract people to do those difficult jobs if we’re not going to look after them?”
Sandii’s husband spent 30 years with Victoria Police, and she still has several close friends in the police force and emergency services.
“I left the police force feeling really positive about it, which is one of the reasons the 365 Campaign came about,” Sandii says. “I feel lucky that I escaped with my mental health [intact]. And not everyone else does, so I feel a bit of a responsibility to look after those left behind, who are suffering but still doing their job.”
A group of sponsors and quiet cheerleaders
As well as clocking at least 3.65km each day, David and Sandii have secured sponsorship from local businesses in Albury-Wodonga and Melbourne.
“A lot of strangers are coming together because everyone wants to do something to take away the stigma [of mental illness] and save lives,” says Sandii.
She and David also manage a 365 Campaign group on social media, with several followers and “quiet cheerleaders” also having made the commitment to walk, run or cycle 3.65km each day.
Sandii recognises how important regular exercise is for her own mental health.
“The research tells us that exercise is so important. It’s hard to go into the gym when you’re not feeling it, but you walk differently when you finish and feel proud you did it.
“I said today that David and I are lucky we have other, as well as the group to motivate us.”
Protecting the protectors
Sandii says that emergency services work can be thankless, without time to consider the impact you’ve made.
“You’re often so busy, putting jobs behind you and there’s another six or seven waiting. You don’t get time to reflect that you’ve actually been able to help someone that day,” Sandii says.
“In this kind of work, you’re constantly looking to problem solve. It comes with responsibility and accountability, and can be exhausting.
“Some of my friends have been stopped by complete strangers when they’re in uniform. They’ve stopped them to say thank you for your service, and it's brought my friends to tears. It’s a really simple gesture but it means a lot to feel like you are valued by the community.”
“For me, the emergency services are the red and blue flashing lights. I can't tackle everything, but I can tackle something that's close to my heart.”
Learn more about the Emergency Services Foundation