It sounds like a fairytale: shoes that grow five times their size to keep up with growing kids who would otherwise go barefoot. But there’s no magic behind this incredible invention, only “practical compassion,” as Because International—this project’s founders—likes to call it.
With 300 million children worldwide going barefoot each day, The Shoe That Grows is already helping children in poverty go places they never dreamed of—literally!
The Shoe That Grows
The Shoe That Grows was inspired by a little girl in Nairobi, Kenya who wore a white dress with a pair of shoes that clearly didn’t fit her feet. Executive Director of The Shoe That Grows Kenton Lee couldn’t help but notice how painful these shoes looked.
He asked himself, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a shoe that could adjust and expand—so that kids always had a pair of shoes that fit?” That little girl inspired him to create The Shoe That Grows.
The Shoe That Grows doesn’t really grow, exactly. Instead, it expands through a series of snaps that allows the shoe to get roomier for children’s growing feet.
The durable leather and rubber ensures that they won’t wear out, and with small and large sizes, just two pairs of shoes can last a child from kindergarten all the way to ninth grade!
Why Focus on Footwear?
With all the problems posed by poverty, it may seem strange to focus on shoes. But imagine trying to walk to school in shoes that are way too small—or worse, with no shoes at all.
This is the reality for too many kids who risk injuries and disease from broken glass, debris, and parasites that enter the human body through the feet. With no protection, the everyday act of walking to school can be a dangerous ordeal.
This danger can be eliminated with nothing more than a decent pair of shoes. And that’s the problem. Kids’ feet grow fast—and when a child’s shoes no longer fit, they’re back to going barefoot.
But with these ultra-lightweight shoes, aid groups and even individual travelers can provide footwear that will give children years of protection.
Because International’s projects, like The Shoe That Grows, are successful because they don’t assume they know what’s best. Instead, they rely on the communities themselves to figure out how to help. They call it “Innovation Conversation”—and the most important part is simply listening.
According to their website, their mission is “to hear the thoughts, ideas, and dreams of the poor—and then find ways to help make those a reality.” Founder Kenton Lee puts it even more simply when he writes “It can’t be about us; it has to be about them.”
The Shoe That Grows is just one of several innovative projects funded by Because International that makes everyday life better for those in need. You can get involved in an Innovation Conversation here, or donate a pair of these magical shoes here.
Video Credit: Because International on Vimeo