More than 1,400 to walk up to 100km to raise awareness for caregivers of people with mental illnesses

Participants at the biennial Let's Take A Walk, on Saturday (Sept 23) morning. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Participants at the biennial Let's Take A Walk, on Saturday (Sept 23) morning. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Part-time caregiver Yang Tiong Hock has only walked a maximum of 40km before, but he is doing 60km more to raise awareness for other caregivers of people with mental illnesses on Saturday (Sept 23).

The quality manager in a pharmaceutical company cares for his mother and brother, who have schizophrenia, a sister with schizoaffective disorder, and another brother with bipolar disorder.

He is doing the 100km Xtreme Walk, as one of the more than 1,400 registered walkers who are walking for a good cause in the biennial Let's Take A Walk. It is organised by volunteers from Raleigh Singapore, a non-profit group which helps young people through adventure-based learning activities.

The extreme endurance walking event kicked off at the National Museum of Singapore on Saturday morning (Sept 23).

A total of 1,450 walkers registered for the four races - 10km, 50km, 50km (night), and 100km. It is the highest number of participants the event has attracted in the 20 years it has been running. The participants' ages ranged from six to 75.

Mr Yang, 43, also a member of the organising committee, said: "I did the 20km and 40km training walks, and some training here and there when I can find time, but this would be my maiden walk (for a distance) this long."

He hopes to finish at noon tomorrow (Sept 24), 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: "It's heartwarming that Raleigh is looking at this cause. 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."

All registration fees and donations, minus the operating costs, will be donated to Raleigh Singapore and the Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL), which helps caregivers of people with mental illnesses.

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

"The more we are able to build community care and individual resilience, the stronger we will be as an inclusive society."

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