By Kate Andrews, ChildFund International writer
Last April, ChildFund workforce specialist Ann Latham-Anderson asked the children in her neighborhood an important question: If you didn’t have shoes, what would you miss most?
Then she let them draw on her feet with magic markers, and her husband and daughter chipped in with drawings of children on her toes. The next day at work, she won our foot-decoration contest. “It did take a while to get the ink off my feet,” Ann says with a laugh.
One Day Without Shoes, on April 16, is an engaging day at ChildFund’s international office in Richmond, with contests and music, but it also reminds us about the impact something simple like a pair of well-fitting shoes can have on children’s health, education and future opportunities.
In developed countries, “we have so many options of what kind of shoes to wear,” says Sadye-Ann Henry, a treasury assistant who won the pedicure contest last year. One activity, walking on rocks, showed Sadye-Ann “how tender our tootsies are” and a glimpse of the challenges the children we serve face every day.
Ann, Sadye-Ann and many more of us at ChildFund, including some of our national offices, are preparing to join in on One Day Without Shoes by going without shoes at the office. This event, started by TOMS Shoes six years ago, is meant to raise awareness about children’s education and health and how shoes play a role in helping create opportunities for a better future.
In many developing countries that ChildFund serves, children must have uniforms and shoes to attend school. Also, when children have only flip-flops or no shoes at all, they’re vulnerable to cuts, diseases and hookworm infection, which have long-term implications like stunted growth and compromised health.
Anyone can participate in One Day Without Shoes. Just kick off your shoes and join the rest of us in creating awareness of an important cause.
by Cynthia Price, ChildFund Director of Communications
My morning routine was thrown off a bit today.
Usually I stare at my closet deciding which pair of shoes to wear. It’s a good problem to have because it means I have a closet full of shoes.
Working for ChildFund helps me to count my blessings more frequently. Many of the children we serve in developing countries don’t have shoes. They walk barefoot and get cuts and scrapes, which often become infected. Many children get diseases from walking barefoot.
In some communities, children can’t go to school if they don’t have shoes. Or the long trek to school may simply be too far to walk barefoot.
Today at ChildFund we’re participating in One Day Without Shoes, which seeks to raise awareness about those who don’t have the luxury of shoes. We’ll spend the day at work barefoot. We’ll have activities. Employees will be invited to walk barefoot in a “Walk Box,” where they can experience how difficult it is to walk across pebbles.
When I first started talking about a day without shoes, I heard some interesting comments. “I’m not walking across the parking lot. There are stones.” Another person said, “Are you kidding? There are staples in the carpet.”
I would simply respond, “Isn’t that the point?”
We take for granted our ability to walk anywhere we want, thanks to the multiple pairs of shoes in our closets. Just for today, try going barefoot. Try following in the footsteps of their tiny feet – without shoes.