The Shoe That GrowsThey say that kids grow up in the blink of an eye, and they are not wrong. Kids grow quicker than any parent can keep up with, especially those who cannot afford to properly accommodate these rapid changes. Children between the ages of one and six will grow out of their shoes every three to four months. This means that a child could go through 18 pairs of shoes within the first six years of his or her life.

Families living in extreme poverty cannot afford to pay for this many pairs of shoes for their children. While donated shoes may provide a temporary fix, kids will continue to grow and these shoes will soon be rendered unusable. The only true solution to this problem would be a magical pair of shoes that grows at the same rate as a child. The Shoe That Grows has turned this seemingly impossible product into a reality, and in turn, has positively impacted the lives of thousands of children around the world.

Why The World Needs Shoes

With hunger, life-threatening infectious diseases, and a slew of other issues to worry about, one wouldn’t assume that shoes would fall at the top of the list of things that impoverished families need. However, shoes are far more important than they seem. Over 1.5 billion people around the globe are affected by soil-transmitted diseases. Some of the most dangerous threats lurking in the soil are parasites such as hookworm and ringworm that affect more than 880 million children worldwide.

Children without shoes or with shoes that do not fit correctly live at a much higher risk of contracting these diseases and parasites, not to mention cuts, bruises, blisters and other injuries. When children are sick they are prevented from attending school, which could have a long-term effect.

From Concept to Reality

Kenton Lee was traveling in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007 when he noticed the troublesome state of many children’s feet. All around him, children ran barefoot. One little girl, in particular, stuck out to him: she wore a white dress and shoes that were several sizes too small for her.

It was this experience that eventually led Lee to start a nonprofit in 2009 called Because International. The organization is focused on finding innovative solutions to the problems caused by global poverty. Soon after its inception, Because International launched its first project, The Shoe That Grows. Since then, the organization has distributed over 225,000 ‘growing’ shoes across the world.

If The Shoe Fits…

The Shoe That Grows expands in three places: at the front, sides and back of the foot. This allows the shoe to grow five sizes larger than its smallest setting. The shoes are also highly durable: with a strong rubber sole and a tough leather body, they are designed to withstand years of use. Through its partnership with various organizations around the globe, Because International has been able to deliver The Shoe That Grows to the areas that need them most.

The organization also offers individuals an annual opportunity to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’ with their Wear-A-Pair fundraising event. After signing up for the event, participants receive fundraising kits along with a pair of The Shoe That Grows. Fundraisers are encouraged to wear the shoes from May 6-19 in order to raise awareness about global poverty and the innovative solutions that continue to work towards ending it.

This innovation highlights a daily struggle for many living in poverty, something that most people in developed countries are unaware of. With this initial project, Because International may be ready to launch many more innovations to help alleviate global poverty.

– Ryley Bright
Photo: Flickr