Sometimes, the simplest invention can change millions of lives. That’s the goal of The Shoe That Grows, a sandal invented by Kenton Lee. These shoes can adjust its size, allowing children in impoverished nations to grow up without having to go barefoot. The shoes, which come in catch-all Small and Large sizes, can grow five sizes and last at least 5 years.
The Power of a Pair of Shoes
According to The Shoe That Grows, “There are over 300 million children who do not have shoes. And countless more with shoes that do not fit.” Children without shoes are susceptible to injuries and parasites that infect humans through our feet. Rachel Garton of Buckner International Shoes for Orphan Souls says, “Just by putting a pair of shoes on a child, we can increase their health by 50 percent.”
From physical improvement to being able to participate in a society, shoes can improve:
- Quality of life
- Prevent injury of disease
- Help with healing for those with chronic foot conditions
- Offer support for inadequate arches or excess pronation
- Express one’s self
- Enable a person to work in hazardous conditions
- Help land that coveted job.
Over 1.5 billion people suffer from soil-transmitted diseases worldwide. Most notable in the susceptibility are the impoverished children who simply cannot afford shoes. Without shoes, children are especially vulnerable to soil-transmitted diseases and parasites that can cause illness and even death.
Dangers of Bare Feet
Improper sanitization along with the lack of foot protection can lead to parasitic worms being able to bore itself into a foot in a corkscrew-like manner. Severe illness would then follow after a hookworm infection with anemia being the biggest health concern.
While the hookworm epidemic is no longer a concern in the U.S. today, the need for proper footwear is still critical as a way of reducing the risk of certain parasitic diseases and foot infections in third world countries.
According to the Global Partnership for Education, an estimated 69 million primary-school-age boys and girls are not in school. This is due to a varying range of variables from poverty to disease. These factors however go hand-in-hand when children do not have the financial capabilities to afford proper footwear to protect their feet from life-hindering diseases.
Children who get sick miss school, can’t help their families and ultimately, suffer needlessly. Moreover, many countries require school uniforms which definitely include shoes, and since children’s feet grow so quickly, they often outgrow donated shoes within a year, leaving them once again exposed to illness and disease.
Shoes and Foot Development
Shoes not only help our feet to heal but can also aid in support and stability of our foot. Not all feet are perfect, so properly fitting shoes can help align your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back to correct gait and improve posture. It is important to also note that poorly-fitted shoes can have a negative impact on your foot health, but accounting for the foot length and width can help prevent any foot development disorders.
Additionally, growth spurts in children are rapid so proper and regular foot measurements are important; replacement of worn-out shoes is necessary to maintain optimal foot conditions and protection for your feet.
In addition, without supportive shoes, unnecessary impact and stress on areas of the feet and knees not made for shock absorption/pressure can eventually lead to increased back, knee and foot pain.
Small to Large: Sizes and Impact
Through his innovation of The Shoe That Grows, Kenton Lee has seen how small things have the power to make a big impact. Since its beginning, The Shoe That Grows has distributed over 120,000 pairs in 91 countries.
Through its parent charity organization, Because International, The Shoe That Grows works with nonprofits, churches, individuals and organizations serving kids in need. The business covers the cost of the shoes through donations and fundraisers, and after shoes are then packed and sent to groups before they travel.
Lee now tells his story to audiences who are eager to make a difference at home, work, and in their local and global communities. He not only inspires others through his speeches, but he lives out practical compassion everyday through his full-time work with his nonprofit organization. Lee serves as a model and inspiration for us all.
– Richard Zarrilli, Jr.