Started in 2004, the main aims of the Yellow Ribbon Project are to give ex-offenders a second chance in life – and to help them to integrate successfully back into society – through acceptance, employment and other venues.
Run is a key component of the Yellow Ribbon Project
And the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run is a key component of the Yellow Ribbon Project to raise awareness of the need for acceptance of the ex-offenders. Taking place in the second week of September every year, this race has a very unique race route through the Changi area, including ending the race inside the grounds of Changi Prison – which is usually closed to the public.
My first Yellow Ribbon Prison Run was in 2012
I did my first Yellow Ribbon Prison Run in 2012. This was my very first running race and I had registered for it, because I thought the run represented a truly meaningful cause.
And at the race village, it seemed to be much more than a mere race carnival. Besides the usual post-run giveaways and food and drinks stalls, there were also meaningful displays, such as a storyboard comprising of the inmates’ journeys from prison to the world outside and a mock-up of a real prison cell. This gave us an idea of how the inmates have to live during their time in prison and how few basic necessities they were allowed to possess.
Seeing these displays had made me realise even more, how hard it is for the inmates not only whilst in prison, but also after they are released. For example, they can be stigmatised simply for having a criminal record and being judged on a single mistake that they had made, when they may have been young and foolish and didn’t know much better.
In-house baked good from the prison’s in-house bakery
Every year, the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run also gives out post-race food items that have been baked by the prison’s own in-house bakery, SCORE bakery. I still remember the mooncakes that were given out one year and the lovely muffins the year before that.
These were quite delicious and there wasn’t much difference in terms of taste – as compared to the ones that you can purchase in many neighbourhood bakery shops around Singapore. At the time I had also thought letting runners taste food prepared by the prison’s own bakery was rather meaningful.
Taking part in the Yellow Ribbon Run again
This year, I will be taking part again in the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run – as a social media advocate – as this is a cause that I find meaningful. Through my participation, I hope to spread the world about the Yellow Ribbon Project and that ex-offenders should not be blacklisted for the rest of their lives.
Even though there may be some bad eggs reverting back to crime as soon as there are temptations, a number of ex-convicts truly wish to make a change in their lives – and they deserve that second chance to make amends.
This year’s run will be on 13 September
This year’s edition of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run will be held on 13 September at 7.45am – beginning at the SAF Field, Changi Village and finishing inside the compounds of Changi Prison. Registration for the race may have already closed, but you can still feel free to support the cause – by cheering on your loved ones at the race village.