Participants of different ages and backgrounds came together to show their support for the acceptance of ex-offenders and their reintegration into society at the seventh Yellow Ribbon Prison Run on 13 September 2015. More than 7,500 people signed up for the run, committing to race against the stigmatisation of ex-offenders.
Following its inaugural launch in 2009, the annual Yellow Ribbon Prison Run has attracted over 56,700 runners over the seven runs, and raised more than $674,000.00 for the Yellow Ribbon Fund. Themed “The Road to Acceptance”, the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run took participants through a 6km Fun Route, finishing at Changi Prison Complex, where an open carnival was held. The route brought participants through historical sites such as the Johore Battery, Changi Chapel Museum and the Old Changi Prison Wall.
The run begins with the symbolic “unlocking of second prison”, as Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Guest-of-Honour was invited to open a mock-up prison gate. The run route brings runners through historic sites such as the Johore Battery and Changi Chapel Museum. Runners get to run through the iconic Old Changi Prison Wall, which opens once a year for the run, into the heart of Changi Prison Complex at the finishing point.
This year, families were in for a treat with one of the highlights being the Happily Ever After Running Trail (HEART Trail) along the route. This family-friendly interactive trail aimed to educate children about acceptance using familiar children’s stories. Along the route, participants encountered fairy-tale characters, such as the Ugly Duckling, Swan and Princess, illustrating stories of happily ever after as a result of being given a second chance.
“We are encouraged by the support as runners from all walks of life – ex-offenders, families, and youths come together to fight the stigmatisation of the incarcerated on this road to acceptance,” said Superintendent of Prisons Winston Teo (张伟政), Chairperson of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2015 organising committee. “We hope that more people, regardless of their background, will continue to do their part in building a society that embraces second chances.”
Members of the public were also treated to performances by 46-member strong local wind orchestra, The Philharmonic Winds, in collaboration with two inmates from the Singapore Prison Service Performing Arts Centre (PAC). One of the songs performed, “Changed”, was penned by an ex-offender, reflecting his desire to change and his hope for acceptance. The song was one of the ten finalist songs at the Yellow Ribbon Song Writing Competition Finale held earlier this year.