What can pair of shoes do for a child?

What can pair of shoes do for a child?

Friday, September 20, 2013
Logo KidsCan

Julie Chapman, CEO & Founder of KidsCan, says: 

As a child I had everything I needed growing up, three meals a day, warm clothing and of course shoes.I can remember summer and winter days where I would take my shoes off, (as we Kiwis do) and run around barefoot. In New Zealand that’s a great part of our culture.   

The difference between myself and the children KidsCan supports today, is that I had a choice. Unfortunately for thousands of kids living in poverty right here in our own back having a pair of shoes is a rarity. In fact it is not uncommon for us to hear about children in our schools who have never had a pair of shoes at all.

Shoes are considered a required part of the school uniform and without shoes children are unable to participate fully in school activities and excursions. Our partner schools tell us this can lead to children becoming isolated, bullied which has a real effect on their self-worth.  

Not having shoes to protect little feet can also lead to serious health conditions as nasty bugs can be absorbed through the feet and even through the toughest soles. As the skin on the bottom of the feet toughens and thickens, large cracks can form, which allows parasitic infections such as hookworm and threadworm to penetrate the skin. In addition, constant cuts and scrapes to the feet and ankles frequently become infected and many of these infections can lead to ulcers and worse. Over 100 children are admitted to hospital overnight each year in New Zealand with cutting or puncture injuries and more than 50% are foot related injuries.

Over the past eight years KidsCan has provided disadvantaged children in New Zealand with more than 50,000 pairs of shoes and 100,000 pairs of socks. An independent evaluation of the programme by Massey University has found there are a number of positive effects of children receiving shoes, particularly in relation to increasing their ability to participate at a level equal to their peers. This increased participation also positively impacts on children’s physical health. The effect on children’s self-esteem and pride is also notable, particularly when children are first given their brand new pair of shoes. 

Recently a teacher at one of our schools shared a gorgeous story with us about a girl in her class. The teacher was taking her class of new entrants to the library and noticed one of the girls was struggling to keep up with the other children. When she went to the back of the line to see what was wrong she saw the shoes on the girls feet where in such bad condition they were almost disintegrating on her little feet.  The teacher took the girl aside and asked her if she would like a pair of brand new KidsCan shoes. The little girls face lit up with a big smile and they went to the office to get the shoes for her. The teacher contacted us to thank us for supporting her school. The part I love most about this story is the teachers comment at the end of her message. “KidsCan gives our children dignity”.

Isn’t it amazing what a simple pair of shoes can do for a child. You can help us to do more shoes by supporting a New Zealand child for just 50 cents a day.  www.kidscan.org.nz

Julie Chapman

CEO and Founder KidsCan