Best foot forward to support caregivers

Let's Take A Walk, an extreme endurance walking event which is in its 20th year, kicked off at the National Museum of Singapore yesterday.
Let's Take A Walk, an extreme endurance walking event which is in its 20th year, kicked off at the National Museum of Singapore yesterday.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Quality manager Yang Tiong Hock spent the last few months improving his stamina by walking 10km a day playing mobile game Pokemon Go.

Yesterday morning, he started out on a walk that would be 10 times longer than his practice walks in support of caregivers of people with mental illnesses. Mr Yang, who works in a pharmaceutical company, is a part-time caregiver for his mother and brother, both of whom have schizophrenia. His sister has schizoaffective disorder and he has another brother with bipolar disorder. He was part of the 1,450 participants who registered for the biennial Let's Take A Walk event which is in its 20th year.

The event is organised by volunteers from Raleigh Singapore, a non-profit group which helps young people through adventure-based learning activities, and the hope is to raise more than $100,000 for the organiser and the Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL), which helps caregivers of people with mental illnesses.

The extreme endurance walking event, which kicked off at the National Museum of Singapore yesterday, saw its most number of participants ever this year.

The walkers, who registered for the four races - 10km, 50km, 50km (night), and 100km - were between the ages of six and 75.

Mr Yang, 43, who is also a member of the organising committee, said: "I also did 20km and 40km training walks... but this would be my maiden walk (for a distance) this long."

He hoped to finish at noon today, before the time limit of 33 hours.

After flagging off the first two races, guest of honour and Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua said: "Awareness of mental health conditions is on the rise, but acceptance and learning to respond to people with these conditions - there's still much to be done.

"In fact, social inclusion and understanding is one of the key strategies that will help such conditions."

Mr Chew Sutat, 45, CAL chairman, said: "In the last few years, the Government has stepped up a lot more to support those who have mental health conditions, including dementia. But caring for our loved ones is an equally (difficult), if not a harder, burden."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 24, 2017, with the headline 'Best foot forward to support caregivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe