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Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2016: Running for Second Chances
More than 9,000 people took part in the eighth Yellow Ribbon Prison Run.

Encouragement and support can be hard to come by in life, especially when one is an ex-offender.

For Bella (not her real name), 31, that support came while she was still in prison for drug-related offences. The encouragement that Bella received was given by one of her prison warders, who was always ready to lend a listening ear and urged Bella not to give up on her dreams of pursuing higher education.

Bella’s dreams were realised when she received the Yellow Ribbon Skills Training Assistance to Restart (STAR) Bursary Fund after she was released from prison in 2014. The STAR Bursary Fund provided her with funding and support for a part-time diploma.

During this year’s Yellow Ribbon Prison Run, Bella, who held her wedding recently, was given the opportunity to participate in the run alongside with the warder who inspired her; Chief Warder (CW) 1 Siti Hawa.

Bella (second from left) and her husband (third from left) pose with Chief Warder 1 Siti Hawa (left) and STAR Bursary Committee member Ms Charlotte Yew (right). PHOTO: Nizam Neti

“I feel very honoured to be given a chance to run with my ma’am and to not be judged as an ex-inmate… Running with her was a rare and golden opportunity,” said Bella.

Bella had teamed up with her husband, CW (1) Siti Hawa and STAR Bursary Committee member Ms Charlotte Yew to form one of 13 teams to participate in the Run for Second Chances Movement. The initiative allowed ex-offenders to run with those who had supported them in their rehabilitation journey.

“I gave Bella the same advice I give to all my inmates…there is no easy way to success, but the important thing is to stay focused on your end goals. At the end of the day, when you know you want to achieve something go for it,” said CW (1) Siti Hawa.

This year’s run featured a 10km Run and a 5km Fun Walk that took participants through sites of historical significance such as the Johore Battery and Changi Prison’s Entrance, which is only open annually for the run. PHOTO: Nizam Neti

“Ex-offenders face many challenges… It is very important for people from all walks of life to come together to support ex-offenders as they reintegrate back into society,” said Superintendent (Supt) of Prisons Cheam Tiong Pheng,43, Vice Chairperson of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2016 Organising Committee.

This year’s run also featured a Rehabilitation Exhibition and Fair that allowed members of public to experience what life in prison is like and to pen down notes of support for inmates. PHOTO:Nizam Neti

The Run for Second Chances Movement was inspired by a relay race held during the Czech Republic’s first every Yellow Ribbon Run in May 2016.

“The Yellow Ribbon run is a great way to share with the public the idea of the acceptance of inmates back into society. Letting ex–offenders take part in it is beneficial to their rehabilitation,” said Dr Gabriela Slovakova, Prison Governor of the Prison Service of the Czech Republic.

The 10km Competitive Run was flagged off by Minister of Home Affairs and Law Mr K Shanmugam, who praised the efforts of participants in helping to spread awareness for the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders.

Minister of Home Affairs and Law Mr K Shanmugam, who flagged off the morning’s run, said family support for ex-offenders is key. PHOTO: Nizam Neti

“To have 9,000 people here to support the cause and help people have the right mindset to support second chances, is really a great achievement,” said Mr Shanmugam.

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Jaiesh Sachi
  2. 06 September 2016
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