Yellow Ribbon Race raises $150k to help ex-offenders as 3,000 brave heavy rain

The Yellow Ribbon Race seeks to support the reintegration of former offenders into society. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Around 3,000 people braved a downpour to take part in a run on Sunday, as part of efforts that raised $150,000 to support former offenders.

Following a two-year hiatus, the physical run returned as part of the Yellow Ribbon Race, which seeks to support the reintegration of former offenders into society.

Formerly known as the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run, the 2022 event has been rebranded with the theme I Race For Second Chances for the inaugural race.

Aside from the physical race, there is a virtual option, which allows participants to complete the race at their own convenience during the month of September.

The physical race, with participants choosing to either run or walk in the 6km or 10km categories, was capped at 3,000 participants in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The participants, including members of the Home Team, corporate partners, volunteers and the public, were flagged off at Changi Prison Complex by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

More than 2,700 participants have signed up for the virtual race category, which runs from Sept 1 to 30. They can opt to clock any distance on foot, water and wheels.

Those looking to challenge themselves can take part in a duathlon, which involves a 20km run and 60km bike ride.

The virtual race was introduced in 2021 after the 2020 event was cancelled due to Covid-19.

(From left) Yellow Ribbon Project CEO Matthew Wee Yik Keong, DPM Lawrence Wong and Commissioner of Prisons Shie Yong Lee taking part in the race. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Vice-chairman of the Yellow Ribbon Race 2022 committee and superintendent of the drug rehabilitation centre at Changi Prison Complex Kok Weng Chew said: "With the expanded race categories, we hope that everyone, regardless of abilities or interests, can join us in showing support for ex-offenders and their families."

A total of $150,000 was raised by corporations and the public through their participation in the race and donations to the Yellow Ribbon fund.

As part of the virtual race, those serving the tail-end of their sentences under community-based programmes clocked their distance on water alongside their reintegration officers. They kayaked while conducting a cleanup of Sembawang Beach, as part of sustainability initiative Project Blue Wave by PAssion Wave.

Residents from the HEB-Ashram Halfway House, a place to rehabilitate and reintegrate substance abusers into society, clocked their distance on foot. They removed invasive plant species at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, in support of National Parks Board's Invasive Species Management Activity.

Former offender and race participant Andyn Kadir, 36, hopes to make the public aware that "ex-offenders can also be givers instead of just takers".

"I hope we, ex-offenders, can show through our actions that we have learnt from our past mistakes, and can contribute meaningfully to the community that has supported us," said the founder of Strength Avenue fitness gym.

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