Over 2,000 participate in run to promote an inclusive society

The start of the 5km run at Runninghour 2017. Leading the pack is Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng and his wife Michelle. Both in blindfolds.ST VIDEO: SAMANTHA BOH
Some 2,000 people gathered to run in the name of inclusiveness at Bedok Reservoir on Saturday, May 13 2017.
Some 2,000 people gathered to run in the name of inclusiveness at Bedok Reservoir on Saturday, May 13 2017. ST PHOTO: SAMANTHA BOH

SINGAPORE - Over 2,000 people gathered to run in the name of inclusiveness at Bedok Reservoir on Saturday (May 13), some donning blindfolds to experience the challenges faced by the visually impaired.

Among them was Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng and his wife Michelle. The couple ran blindfolded in the 5km 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. The group relies on volunteers to partner special needs runners and lead them on runs.

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The couple introduced the first Runninghour running event in 2015, which included a "blind run" segment where 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, of whom 340 had 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.