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When I watched the TOMS documentary One for One, I realized just how in need of shoes kids around the world are. For example, in places like Haiti and Argentina, kids can get a foot parasite called podoconiosis from persistent contact with irritating volcanic soil. Nicknamed “elephantitis” from the disfigurement it creates, podoconiosis affects four million people worldwide. However, the fact is that it is 100% preventable with basic foot hygiene and wearing shoes. There are also many other disfiguring soil-transmitted diseases. These diseases affect millions of people worldwide and are caused merely by the unhygienic, bacteria-ridden conditions of many areas – much like what I saw in the video. By wearing shoes, children can prevent these diseases and the physical and cognitive harm they cause.
Unfortunately, diseases aren’t the only reason kids are at risk going barefoot every day. For a child, the biggest risk of going without shoes is losing their right to an education, simply because they’re barefoot. Some school uniforms require students to wear shoes daily. And even if there isn’t a uniform, many children must walk miles to get to school, and simply aren’t able to make the trek barefoot. Just simple cuts and sores acquired along the way can be painful, and dangerous if they get infected. If children aren’t able to get an education, they aren’t able to get a good job, which just furthers the vicious cycle of poverty. By bringing shoes to places like Haiti, where 380,000 children are homeless because of the 2010 earthquake, TOMS helps children begin to rebuild their lives by going to school and ultimately breaking free from the ties of poverty.
On a trip to Argentina in 2006, Blake Mykowski saw with his own eyes the real these children had for shoes. He was inspired and wanted to help, so he started his One for One campaign. Since 2006, TOMS (formerly “Shoes for Tomorrow) has donated over one million pairs of shoes to children in need. Even still, many people don’t yet know what TOMS does. So my middle and high school, Pacific Ridge School, has agreed to participate in a worldwide event on April 10th, One Day Without Shoes. That day, our school and community will go barefoot to raise awareness for those millions of children “who don’t have a choice.” Students and faculty alike will also be encouraged to participate in the Barefoot Walk and will have the opportunity to walk barefoot in the neighborhood with classmates. Doing so will help students experience what it’s like to walk in the shoes, or lack thereof, of children in third-world countries. We also are hoping to attract the attention of other people in the neighborhood, so they can know what our school is doing and even join in! If students feel inspired to participate in the cause, $5 off coupons will be available on the day of the event for them to purchase a pair of TOMS and make a difference in a child’s life.
Another opportunity our school is hoping to be able to provide, is the chance to make a difference not just locally but in our community as well. We are connecting with St. Vincent de Paul, the San Diego homeless shelter, to be able to put shoes on the feet of San Diego children in need. With this opportunity, one pair of TOMS will be donated to a child across the globe and instead of the other pair of shoes going to the buyer, they will go to a homeless child. This way, our school can make a difference in the lives of children, not just around the world but in the San Diego community too.
If students would like to participate in this special event on April 10th, they can pledge their support. By signing their name on paper cutouts of bare feet, students at Pacific Ridge School will pledge to go barefoot for children in need. Keep in mind that this is a global event, so if you feel inspired to join the cause, please go to the toms.com or watch the video.
Name: Elle Lefebvre
School: Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad
Favorites: She loves her friends, family, and dogs. She loves watching Glee!
Interests: She enjoys reading, playing the guitar, singing, and playing volleyball. She really loves to do charity work!