The first sports co-operative to help people with special needs to stay active and social has been established. Runninghour Co-operative Limited (Runninghour Co-op), which started in April 2009 as an inclusive running club by a group of running enthusiasts, has leaped into the next lap as a registered co-operative, the only regulated form of social enterprise. As a co-operative, Runninghour Co-op will continue on its social mission to promote integration of people with special needs through sports while ensuring its sustainability with a viable business model. It plans to organise race events at a nation-wide level to further promote its social purpose and impact more people with special needs by providing more opportunities to participate and engage in healthy competition in a variety of activities.
According to Mr John See Toh, Chairman of Runninghour Co-op, “Runninghour has been helping the mildly intellectually challenged, physically challenged and visually challenged integrate, form new bonds and enhance their social network through sports over the last five years. It is more than just a running club. It is a place where aspirations are formed and friendships are nurtured. Evolving into a co-operative was the next step to ensure sustainability, while it continues to rebuild confidence, self reliance of our special and ordinary members.”
The setup of Singapore’s first sports co-operative also drew support from the Singapore National Cooperative Federation (SNCF), the apex body overseeing the Singapore co-operative movement. Ms Dolly Goh, Chief Executive Officer of SNCF, said: “Co-operatives are formed by members for members to empower them to be self-reliant. This ‘coming together’ of like-minded individuals to meet common needs resonates even stronger when the special needs community and their buddies come together to help one another and themselves. We are delighted that Runninghour has chosen the co-operative business model to take the organisation forward for a wider outreach and greater sustainability.”
Purpose of Runninghour
By and large the avenues for persons with special needs who are mildly intellectually challenged with IQ below 70 (the ordinary IQ level is above 100), to integrate into mainstream is very limited. We recognised that with limited resources, we need to be focus in our effort and approach in order to ensure that interest of persons with special needs as well as buddy runners are sustained and our objectives are achievable.
Promote and provide support to persons with special needs in physical recreation i.e. mainly running. Provide opportunities for persons with special needs to interact with their peers, ordinary youth and adults to build bonds and enlarge their social networks.
Promote and nurture independence in participation in mainstream activities. Thus, we are only targeting at persons who are mildly intellectually challenged. Recruiting members who enjoys physical activities and in particularly running. This will ensure sustainability and win-win for both special members and volunteers.