One-size-fits-all shoes for children in poverty

Signal of change / One-size-fits-all shoes for children in poverty

By Gillian Phair / 28 Apr 2015

It is quite rare you find a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach which works well to solve a sustainability problem. 

However in the case of The Shoe that Grows, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is changing the lives of those in absolute poverty.

Because International, a charity from Idaho, has for the first time produced shoes in two sizes (small and large) which ‘grow’ with the help of snap fasteners. These enable the shoes to last over a child’s entire education. Each pair of shoes can grow 5 sizes and last 5 years.

This is not just a matter of comfort and sustainability– 2 billion children around the world contract soil transmitted parasites and disease by walking barefoot. Many children in poverty wear bottles, tyre parts and badly fitted shoes on their feet, all of which can cause more detriment than benefit to their health.

The charity currently works in Ecuador, Haiti, Ghana and Kenya to distribute the shoes. Recent donations have surpassed their fundraising goals, allowing them to expand their projects and order 5,000 more pairs.

Image credit: Marie Claire Andrea / Flickr

So what?

This is a thoughtful and important product, which will not only reduce foot-related health issues among children, but also reduce waste and save costs for families in the long run. 

Often, provision of clothing aid can cause more problems than it solves – for example in bringing about an unforseen decline in local clothing industries. Children in poverty need durable shoes which are fitted for them, rather than occasional donations of worn out shoes that aren’t made to fit or made to last. 

Because International eventually plan to manufacture these shoes locally within the target areas. This is an essential positive feedback system – providing people with jobs, transferrable skills and disposable income to be circulated in the local economy. 

In recognising these needs, the founder of Because International, Kenton Lee, has created a gift of practical compassion. This is a growing project and with hope, its recent publicity can generate further donations and make for more healthy heels around the world.

Sources

The Independent (2015, April 21) The Shoe That Grows: The clever shoes that grow five sizes and last five years to help children in poverty

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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