As we approach the mid-year mark of 2016, it’s time to prepare what is to be coming in the 2nd half of the year.
My personal cause for social improvement is, of course, the Yellow Ribbon Project. Every September is Yellow Ribbon Month. Singapore Prisons Service, along with its partners in the CARE Network, will showcase efforts by volunteers to push for the cause, the actualised and planned initiatives to come, and of course, the outcomes of such efforts so far.
The highlight every year is Yellow Ribbon Run (YR Run).
By ‘highlight’, I am not inferring that the run is more important than any other effort. The essence of the event, bringing everyone from different walks of lives together, in a very unique setting. makes the run one of the most highly anticipated event on the Yellow Ribbon calendar.
Therefore, why should anyone bother to be at the Yellow Ribbon Run?
Witness the Progress of Yellow Ribbon in Singapore
2 years ago, when I was in charge of the Rehabilitation Fair of YR Run 2014 Carnival (LINK), I provided an intimate view of the ideals and efforts of everyone involved in the rehabilitation effort (LINK).
Changing the mindset of 1 person is difficult, so changing the mindset of a whole society is definitely a mountain to conquer.
Therefore, 2 years on, we might not have moved leaps and bounds as a society, it is definitely worth going to the event to see what has progressed.
Run Through The Nation’s Most Unique Race Route
In the last decade, many races have sprouted in response to the increased interest in running. When I was in the committee, my colleague in Publicity told me that there was at least 1 run every week in Singapore, and on the day of our event, there was another race event taking place in the city.
Our Chairperson then threw us the question: How do we differentiate ourselves from the others?
YR Run from the start is the most unique race in Singapore.
One starts at the colonial enclave in Changi Village, running past historic sites like Changi Chapel Museum, Johore Battery and Changi Prison Wall (which had just been gazetted by National Heritage Board as the 72nd national monument on 15 Feb 2016; LINK).
And then one runs into Changi Prison Complex, open only once a year to public, which is a state-0f-the-art facility that houses offenders to carry out their sentences, while undergoing rehabilitation.
Of course, word of mouth from experienced runners has it that the run route itself is a challenge. The area is fairly undeveloped, therefore the run route is lined with undulating slopes, the most challenging is the one at Cosford Road, near Selarang Camp.
Less experienced runners can choose to walk a less intense 6km route. Other than the scenic, natural surroundings, primary school kids lined the roads with their improvised percussion to cheer runners on. I heard, this year, there would be something different.
Carnival Like No Other
While other events, races or not, aims to entertain with world-renowned performing artistes, YR Run’s End Point Carnival presents something different. There is International Brotherhood of Magic roving amongst the crowd, foot massages by the visually-handicapped, performances from schools, and of course, the one and only performance by the inmates themselves.
The logistics of bringing inmates to that location (though still within the complex, but is still deemed as highly challenging, nonetheless) nearly got the bosses to cancel the performance. But once and again, year after year, the committee overcame obstacles to bring the only performance item that makes the race stand out from others to the stage.
Before the run, everyone would be more focused on warming up and getting hyped up for the run. After the run, though, it could be seen how everyone from all walks of life come together to see for themselves how much Singapore as a society has progressed.
Many participants were ex-offenders, their families and friends. The event had garnered support from corporate registrations. Community groups also showed their support, so even uncles and aunties all the way from Choa Chu Kang came down to participate in the event. There were even foreigners who flew all the way to Singapore, because they heard about Yellow Ribbon Project (which, by the way, is a trailblazer in its own right) and wanted to support an event of such a noble cause, right at the place of origin.
Considering the odds of bringing the run to actualisation, it is amazing that YR Run will come to its 7th iteration this year. One of the main detractors to the run is the fact that this is an event that is not making money at all.
True enough, the Yellow Ribbon Project continually raised enough funds to spur rehabilitation efforts every year, but the run event itself is never profitable.
Except for the registration fee (which everyone familiar to run events would have known, the fee is nominal compared to other events), runners do not pay for anything else. From the services, food and performances at the carnival, to the shuttle buses that ferries everyone back to Expo.
The event is maintained solely from sponsors, with the sole objective of touching everyone in the society with the message of rehabilitation.
The run is slated to return for the 7th time in 2016.
More information and registration details can be found on its official website (LINK)