If you have children, then you’re well aware they’re constantly outgrowing their shoes. If you had older siblings, you probably had more than a few hand-me-down kicks in your day, but even still, most children outgrow their shoe sizes in the span of a year. For children in severe poverty-stricken countries, going barefoot because of a lack of adequate footwear is a heartbreaking reality.
That is changing, though, thanks to Kenton Lee who has developed a brilliant solution to this problem: a shoe that grows with the child’s feet. The Shoe That Grows has the ability to grow five sizes and is built to last up to five years, meaning that parents don’t have to worry about finding a new pair of shoes for their child every year.
Lee was working in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007 when he saw a young girl who was wearing shoes too small for her feet. He decided that a practical and compassionate solution was needed, and created 5,000 pairs of durable, adjustable shoes.
His team’s goal is to get as many shoes as possible to kids through organizations like churches and relief groups that already have established relationships with communities in need. Lee first tried to get Nike, Crocs, and Toms – who are well-known for donating shoes to the needy – on board, but all the companies passed. Eventually, the designer found a partner in Proof of Concept, who helped refine the design. The shoes are made of soft leather and heavy-duty rubber that expands with various snaps and buckles.
So far, they have distributed all of their shoes and are working on efforts to get more shoes to the kids who need them. At a cost of $30 a pair, the shoes have the power to change a life, and Lee is eager to get more shoes to the kids who need them, with the help of those generous enough to donate.
“If I can provide a kid with protection so they stay healthy and keep going to school, I’ll have done my part.” – Kenton Lee
Watch the video summing up Kenton Lee’s message about practical compassion, and explaining how the shoe that grows works: