The Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2010 doubles the amount of money raised for the Yellow Ribbon Fund.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF CARE NETWORK|
It was a morning made for sleep-ins. Yet, an estimated 7,600 runners turned up for the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2010 on the cold, rainy morning of Sep. 5 in support of giving ex-offenders a second chance at a normal life. Organized by the Yellow Ribbon Project, the run comprised a 6km Fun Run as well as a 10km competitive run.
Starting off from the SAF Field along Farnborough Road at Changi Village, the route took poncho-garbed runners past historical sites in the Changi area including Johore Battery, a British-built gun emplacement site consisting of a labyrinth of tunnels that had remained a secret until April 1991, the Changi Chapel Museum, Changi Women’s Prison and the high-security Tanah Merah Prison. Along several parts of the route, runners were made to contend with incline runs and undulating terrain, “representative of an inmate’s reintegration journey back to society, an ardous task that takes a lot of determination and resolve on the part of the individual.”
Still, with meandering roads and lush greenery lining almost the entire stretch, it was a scenic run. Nearing the finish line, runners entered the conserved Changi Prison Gatehouse, which led to the new Changi Prison Complex. With the Complex being a protected area, it was an eye-opener for many indeed.
Into its second year now, the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2010 also saw the participation of 180 ex-offenders. It was launched by Guest-of-Honor, Mr. K. Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs.
Says Soh Beng Koon, Chairman of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run organizing committee, “We believe that offenders often encounter two prisons. The first is the physical prison; prison officers hold the key to this prison. After their release, many ex-offenders step into a second, social and psychological ‘prison,’ the key to which is in the hands of family, friends, neighbors, employers and the community at large. In other words, ordinary Singaporeans like you and I.”
Featured at the carnival were the booths of the eight CARE Network agencies such as the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises and Industrial & Services Co-operative Society, rendering assistance with regards to training and re-employment; the Singapore After-Care Association, providing welfare support to both ex-offenders and their families; and Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association, specializing in the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Over at the stage area, inmates from the Performing Arts Centre put up a charged performance of contemporary English hits which elicited shouts of encores from a sporting crowd. They also staged an interactive drama showcasing the rehabilitation initiatives of the CARE Network agencies.
The Yellow Ribbon Project was started in 2004 to create awareness of the need to give second chances to ex-offenders, generate acceptance of ex-offenders and their families in the community, and galvanize the community into action to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders into society.
About 6,000 runners donated S$2 for a pair of Yellow Ribbon Shoelaces each when they registered for the run. A total of S$110,000 was raised from the run for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, up from about S$50,000 last year.