Donning blindfolds in big run for inclusiveness

Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng running blindfolded at yesterday's Runninghour in Bedok Reservoir, guided by group founder John See Toh. Mr Ng and his wife Michelle (right) ran for 1km.
Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng running blindfolded at yesterday's Runninghour in Bedok Reservoir, guided by group founder John See Toh. Mr Ng and his wife Michelle (right) ran for 1km.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Thousands gathered to run in the name of inclusiveness at Bedok Reservoir yesterday, some donning blindfolds to experience challenges faced by the visually impaired.
 

Among them was Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng and his wife Michelle. The couple ran blindfolded for 1km in the 5km run category, with the help of volunteer guides.

The event, Runninghour, which is in its third year, attracted over 2,000 participants, including a record 470 runners with special needs.

Runninghour was started as an informal running group in 2009 by Mr John See Toh, 56, and his wife Chan Jan Siang, 39. The special needs educators wanted to find a way for their students to exercise.

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The group relies on volunteers to partner special needs runners and lead them on runs.

  • 2,000

    More than this number of people took part in Runninghour.

    470

    Number of runners with special needs, a record.

The couple introduced the first Runninghour event in 2015, which included a "blind run" segment: runners pair up and take turns to lead each other while running blindfolded.

In the first year, 2,800 people participated, including 200 with special needs.

Last year, 2,100 took part, including 340 with special needs.

Said Mr See Toh: "Just by being present at today's event, we have given the special participants more courage to believe they too can pursue an active lifestyle.

"More importantly, we are letting them know that we want them to be part of our diverse community and vice versa."

Housewife Selina Tan, 63, whose son Kenny, 24, has autism and cerebral palsy, said the Runninghour event encourages parents like herself and the special needs community.

"I'm happy that awareness of special needs has spread... this run also provides a good opportunity for the community to get together and just have fun," said Mrs Tan.

Ms Patricia Poo, 28, who is visually impaired, said it is good that more parents and caregivers are willing to let their special needs children come out and breathe the fresh air.

"And for other members of the public, such an event allows them to interact with people with special needs, which will help them to be more mindful when they meet them on the street in the future," said the receptionist.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline 'Donning blindfolds in big run for inclusiveness'. Print Edition | Subscribe