Sunrays weren’t the things that filled Changi Village with golden yellow on 15 September. Almost 10,000 runners clad in the familiar yellow singlet tops crowded around the start point at Changi Village, ready to make a difference. Welcome to the 5th Edition of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run! YRPR’13 also marks the 10th Anniversary of the Yellow Ribbon Project in Singapore. It is definitely heartening to see our community step forward to support this meaningful cause of helping ex-offenders unlock their second prison.
Runners were charmed by the robust logistical support, as well as meticulous arrangements made by the organisers. The operations were nothing short of efficacious. The organisers definitely understood what it means to build a wonderful administrative base, so that runners can have a smooth and enjoyable race. The baggage deposit was well-orchestrated and the shuttle services provided were abundant. And I mean, really abundant. The shuttle buses just kept people moving! Medical aid and hydration were more than ample. If we had a national award for best race organization, this race would prove to be a really fierce contestant!
But the success of races is not always marked by organization alone. The cause was deepened by many well-meaning volunteers who came forward to make the race experience a pleasant experience. I think everyone felt sincerity in the air that morning. We were not just there to witness another successful event. There was almost this shout out of “Hey, I am here for you.” And I think that is what the Yellow Ribbon Race is all about.
The challenging route with numerous up-hills was made smooth and safe by the Prisons Cycling Team. And when the going got tough and you felt like stopping to walk, the energetic and vibrant student cheerleaders from various schools encouraged you to push on and to finish strong. And to be frank, I really appreciated the unrelenting cheering efforts of the young ones. When the going gets tough, everyone will welcome a boost signal of courage.
After running past an array of historical and prison sites like Changi Women’s Prison and the Johore Battery, I reached the End Point in the Changi Prison Complex and was greeted by the Carnival’s bustling atmosphere.
I first helped myself to the kind services of the Mobile Massage Team. I was attended to by an experienced uncle who is visually handicapped. As a matter of fact, this mobile massage team, which is a veteran in all major running events, is made up of mostly visually handicapped personnel. I saw that they were all very passionate about what they are doing for the sporting community. As the queue got longer for the massage services, the coordinator came and hurried the team lightly. Here was the response of the uncle who was attending to me, “The queue is expected, but I must give my best to everyone.” I am truly honoured by such an excellent, dedicated person.
Having enjoyed the soothing massage, I took time to visit the expansive range of activities that were purposefully lined up. People who dressed up as Marvel Superheroes offered plenty of photo opportunities, but their main aim was to encourage everyone to tap into their inner superhero to make a difference in the lives of the ex-inmates. There were also many game booths that drew runners with attractive giveaways. Magicians from the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 115 fascinated the crowd with eye boggling illusions. The experience was just so amazing that I almost lost track of the time.
I really appreciated the exhibition put up to give everyone an insight to the life of the inmates. The visual presentations helped the masses to understand that the prison is not a place of condemnation, but a haven of restoration and rehabilitation. The other presentations showed examples of social activism for acceptance of ex-convicts and how companies are involved in helping ex-offenders regain employment. I was particularly impressed at how many supporters generously wrote messages of support for the inmates at the Circle of Support Booth.
The major highlight of this year’s run was the formation of the Giant Human Yellow Ribbon which my friends and I were very proud and delighted to be part of! It was history in the making! We had a total of 1230 people who donned yellow caps to form the outlook of the Giant Yellow Ribbon. It was just incredible to see so many people streaming in to be part of the effort which is now recorded in the Singapore Book of Records!
We did not just have record breakers. What I experienced was almost like family coming together. That closeness, extending love and forgiveness had a purpose; to strengthen the future, leaving no one behind. No past or present can undermine our personal worth, but it is because there is so much potential in the future, that we know we can all get there together.
What an awesome day!