Meet Runninghour Co-op.
You might know the name from Runninghour2015: Run So Others Can event on March 22nd, or have spotted the Runninghour runners in their distinctive apparel in one of the races you’ve ran, but how much do you know about the background of the club?
We had the pleasure to chat with the founders and a few members of Runninghour, a club that promotes integration of people with special needs through running in Singapore.
Enjoy the interview!
1. First of all, could you please give us a short introduction of yourselves for our readers?
John and Jan, Husband and wife, teachers from mainstream who have special interest in special needs education. Both are regular runners and take part in running races.
2. What motivated or inspired you guys to start this running club?
The youth with special needs have limited platform to integrate into the society. We see sports-running as a sustainable way of integrating people with special needs. We like to share the joy of running with this special population and improve their quality of life.
3. What were the challenges you guys have faced in starting this running club and how did you guys overcome them?
We started off with a very small group. It wasn’t easy to cope with our weekly schedule for the past 5.5 years. There are also many preparation work which are quite time-consuming. We only depend on volunteers to run the club at the moment.
4. How is your weekly runs like? ( From warm up to post- run)
We have between 60 to 80 participants at our weekly run.
The run are carried out at different location every week.
Participants can choose from the intensity they like to do each week as we offer 3 programmes of different intensity.
Pre-pairing of guides and special runners are done early so that everyone knows his/her role and buddy when they come for the run.
The buddy/guide is responsible in guiding the special runners through the workout.
5. How do you think running has helped the special members? (mentally, physically and so on)
– Build self-esteem.
– Participate in mainstream activities and feel included
– Widen the circle of friends and support group.
6. Have these special members inspired you guys and if so, how?
They give us a good reason to continue running. Their tenacity often make our own problems seem so trivial.
7. What inspired you organized such an event (Runninghour 2015: Run So Others Can) and what are the challenges you have faced?
The club’s phenomenal growth is clearly an indication of the club meeting a need of the special population. We like Runninghour to be an household name and the best way is through a national race event. We hope any person with special needs will know that they can approach us if they need help to participate in sports. This race is also to attract more people with special needs to come up to be active as we offer complimentary entries to all persons with special needs.
8. The event is meant to further integrate the people with special needs into the society and tell the others that they do deserve respect. How do you think Singapore has progressed so far in integrating them into the society?
We are encouraged by the support of the many organisations who are so willing to support us in whatever way they can. The running community is very supportive as well. We also want to take this opportunity to nurture a gracious and caring running community. Through our outreach programme we also discovered that the general public still lack awareness towards people with special needs (out of sight out of mind) but once they understand them, they are usually supportive. On the whole, the journey has just began.
9. How do you think this event will further integrate them into the society?
It will raise awareness through various mass media. Allow more people with special needs to run/participate alongside with the general public.
Demonstrate the ability of people with special needs and not their disability. Raise the comfort level of people interacting with people with special needs. Our integration workshop are quite well received and we happy to have people willing to spend time to understand people with special needs more.
10. Have you guys been training harder for this event? If so, how? If not, what do you wish for all participants to take away from this event?
A small group of our special runners and members will be training to be pacers for the first time. This group is training a lot harder. For others, the race distances are manageable but their special roles for this event will be race ambassadors-encouraging and helping other runners especially the special runners.
11. Finally, can you leave us with a shout out about Running Hour event?
It’s a breakthrough event in our nation’s sporting history.
1st race where more than 800 runners will be running “blind”
1st race to have so many special runners
1st race to have Blind Runners as pacers
1st race to have so many ordinary runners running alongside with special runners
1st race to have a medal in braillie
Q&A with with a few Runninghour members:
Q. What has been the greatest lesson you have learnt from joining Running Hour club?
Dennis Sim: I have learnt that as long as I refuse to allow my disability to define what I can or cannot do, I can continue to achieve greater potential in myself. And because of this , I am thankful for RunningHour for create an environment that focus on what we can do and not what we cannot do.
Q. What have you learnt from your experience with Runninghour Club and what motivated you to join this club?
Taichi Kimura: Before joining Runninghour, I saw them in the Gardens By the Bay while I was jogging by myself. I did not realize for a moment that they are special runners running with guides. I was impressed by the fact that they are running despite their disabilities. Then I was interested to join the club to give support as a volunteer. That was my motivation to join the club. My experience with Runninghour Club made me realize that I have been taking for it granted that I have eyesight. It is inspiring to see that special runners keep trying to achieve their goals and I am glad that I can be a part of that.
Q. What do you hope you and the others will gain from this event?
Siew Ling: For this run on 22 Mar 15, this is a run like no other. A pair can sign up for the blind run where one of them would be blindfolded and running for a distance of 500m. Later, both will reverse their roles. Besides having a feel of running blind, you can also have the experience of acting as a guide for someone who is blind. All the runners would be running with other fellow runners, with or without a disability. Some of the special members from Runninghour would be taking on various roles during the race? Through the run, we hope to let the community be aware of us, that we, the visually, intellectually and physically challenged runners are just like you and I out there, we do activities like anyone, though we do it differently. Besides running, the special members would be taking on different roles throughout the race. We also want to let other persons with disabilities know of our existence, that there’s this inclusive running club they can be a part of.
Runninghour 2015: Run So Others Can will be a race like no other where you will run alongside over 200 visually, intellectually and physically-challenged runners. Click here to register today. In addition, you can join Runninghour in their third and final Integration Workshop on 28th February (more information here).