Thanks To Shoes That 'Grow', Kids In Poor Countries Will Have Shoes For The Next 5 Years

The patented shoe design is hoping to help billions of children living in extreme poverty.

Cover image via

At a time when an organisation formed with the purpose to "help promote development in poor or war-torn countries" ends up displacing millions of residents in Asia, Africa and in other emerging markets; therefore taking away all hopes of well-intentioned efforts doing any good, comes the news about 'The Shoe That Grows'

An invention of Kenton Lee, 'The Shoe That Grows' is an adjustable, expandable sandal that can "grow" up to five sizes and last for up to five years, allowing children in impoverished nations to grow up without having to go barefoot and prevent them from being infected with soil-transmitted diseases. And they're easy to clean and use.

Kenton Lee was working at an orphanage in Kenya when he noticed a little girl with the ends of her shoes cut off and her toes sticking out. It was then that he came up with the idea for The Shoe That Grows. “For years the idea of these growing shoes wouldn’t leave my mind,” he told BuzzFeed News. The first step was starting Because International with a few friends in 2006, a nonprofit devoted to “working with and helping those in extreme poverty,” their site says.

According to BuzzFeed News, Kenton and his team at first tried to give the idea to companies like Nike, Crocs, and Toms, to no avail. Eventually they found a "shoe development company" called Proof of Concept who agreed to help them with the design of the shoe.

With the help of snaps and adjustable straps, The Shoe That Grows can grow in the front, the sides, and the back, adjusting to five different shoe sizes. Thanks to quality materials, such as compressed rubber for the sole, high-quality leather and heavy-duty snaps, it lasts for five years, despite the heavy use.

In January 2014, Kenton’s organization managed to crowdsource enough funds to produce and distribute 1,000 pairs of shoes to kids in Kenya. He is currently fundraising for a second shipment of 5,000 pairs and he has already surpassed his goal of $50,000.

The uniquely designed shoes come in two sizes. The small size fit preschoolers through fifth graders, while the large will fit fifth through ninth graders. The basic idea is that the whole time kids are in school, they'll have a pair of shoes that fit their fast-growing feet.

Kenton says that he had no idea how important shoes were before he went to Kenya. "But kids," he says, "especially in urban areas, can get infections from cuts and scrapes on their feet from going barefoot, and contract diseases that cause them to miss school."

The 30-year-old, who started a church in Idaho with his wife, said he wanted to put these kids in the best possible position to succeed in their lives. “If I can provide a kid with protection so they stay healthy and keep going to school, I’ll have done my part.”

The shoes cost USD10 a pair, and each pair goes into a "duffle bag" that can fit 50 pairs of shoes. Once one organisation's duffle bag is full, 'Because International' ships it to the organisation that flies with them to one of seven countries. So far about 2,500 children across seven countries are wearing the shoes, including in Ghana, Haiti, Peru, Colombia, and Kenya, BuzzFeed News reported.

Image via Bored Panda

Watch the journey of The Shoe That Grows in the video:

Meanwhile, read the story of a group of engineering students from Australia who created a potentially life-saving water treatment system using a glass tube and a metal chip packet:

You may be interested in: