This year’s Volkswagen Prague Marathon on May 8, 2016, will feature a non-traditional relay race called The Yellow Ribbon Run, a new initiative held in the Czech Republic and Europe for the first time, that aims to draw attention to the plight of former convicts who are unable to find work upon release from prison.
The race is the brainchild of Gabriela Slováková, director of the women’s prison in Světlá nad Sázavou who attended a similar run in Singapore in 2011, which helped create jobs for former prisoners.
“Our aim is to encourage employers to think of the fact that a released prisoner can be a grateful and reliable employee,” says Slováková.
The event is being organized by the Prison Service of the Czech Republic, the Business Leaders Forum platform, which works with socially-responsible firms, and organizer of the marathon RunCzech.
Currently, three inmates from the prison in Světlá nad Sázavou and an inmate from Kuřim are training for the run; three ex-convicts have confirmed their participation.
Prisoners will run with representatives of international and Czech companies. The yellow ribbons to be worn on the runners’ t-shirts (yellow ribbons symbolize a return to society and are inspired by the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”) will be made by prisoners from Světlá nad Sázavou.
Says Iva Petříčková, executive director of Business Leaders Forum, “The recurrence of prisoners is not only a huge economical problem but primarily a human tragedy. We believe that it is possible to break stigmatization of people released from prison and open possibilities for a dignified life.”
All race participants may opt to sport a yellow ribbon in support of the project.
“If one released prisoner will get a job thanks to our project, it will be great,” says RunCzech President Carlo Capalbo.