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Special marathon takes place to promote social inclusion and sports for all

Over 4,000 runners with intellectual disabilities and their pair-up partners competed in the TWGHs “iRun” – Hong Kong Jockey Club Special Marathon (“iRun”) 2024 today (14 January). This is the 13th year The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has supported the event. Funded by the Trust and organised by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (“TWGHs”), the special marathon aims to promote social inclusion and encourage community participation in sports.

The event took place at the Central and Western District Promenade and Lung Wo Road. Officiating guests cheering on the runners included HKSAR Government Financial Secretary Paul Chan, Club Steward Lester Huang, Chairman of TWGHs Herman Wai.

Club Steward Lester Huang was delighted to see the substantially greater participation from runners, organisations and volunteers this year, reflecting how the event effectively raised public awareness of a healthy lifestyle and social inclusion. He said the Club has always attached great importance to the health and well-being of citizens. Over the years, it has supported different organisations to launch various initiatives for building a healthy community, in accordance with its purpose of acting continuously for the betterment of our society.

iRun has been supported by the Club’s Charities Trust since 2012, enabling people with intellectual disabilities to experience the joy of exercise and being more involved in the community. In addition to participants from Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong province, runners and their pair-up partners from Beijing competed for the first time this year, in the 3km challenge race. To promote active participation in sports among different age groups, the 1.5km “Family Run” was organised again this year and enrolled 130 families, including children aged six to 11 with intellectual disabilities. Over 700 volunteers, including members of the Club’s CARE@hkjc Volunteer Team, also joined the event, serving as pair-up runners or on-site helpers to share the joy of running with participants.

iRun also features programmes including the i-Runner Club, to provide regular training for participants under the guidance of coaches; the Inclusion in School programme, which invites tertiary and secondary school students to join the event as pair-up runners; an award scheme for local winning runners to join overseas running competitions; and sponsorship scheme for overseas runner to participate across boundaries. Moreover, waste reduction and recycling initiatives remain part of the event to promote environmental awareness.

The Club also supported Tung Wah College through iRun to conduct a two-year research project, named Vitality Programme, to develop an exercise programme for people with intellectual disabilities to improve their fitness and health condition, especially those living in a residential care setting. The programme also provided training for 140 front-line workers from various rehabilitation organisations, special schools and vocational training centres to acquire knowledge and techniques for conducting innovative exercise programme for persons with intellectual disabilities.

The Club’s support for the above initiatives, like all of its charity donations, is made possible by its unique integrated business model through which racing and wagering generate employment, tax and charity support for the community.