For children living in poverty, footwear is one of many problems. Almost as soon as a child has received shoes to wear, they're likely to have grown out of them and have to make do with them being too small. The Shoe That Grows changes this. It allows children to adjust its size as their feet grow.
Shoes are hugely important for protecting our feet, especially in places where healthcare provision is limited. In bare feet, an innocuous cut or graze can easily become infected or pick up soil-transmitted diseases.
Unfortunately, shoes are not always readily available for those living in poverty, let alone shoes that are the right size. Kenton Lee, founder of poverty charity Because International, saw this first-hand during a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, in 2007. Lee says he saw young children wearing shoes that were way too small for them, with their their toes poking out of the ends.
The experience led to the development of The Shoe That Grows. The shoe has a flexible compressed rubber sole and adjustable leather straps that fit over the top of the foot and around the rear of the heal.
The size of the shoe can be adjusted in three places. Straps at the front and rear of the shoe alter its length, with the rubber sole bending up as required. The front strap has perforations along it into which a popper is secured, while the rear strap is adjusted using a buckle. Straps up the sides of the feet, meanwhile, adjust the width of the shoe using snap buttons.
The shoe is available in two sizes, small and large, that are said to last five years each, from kindergarten to fourth grade and from fifth grade to ninth grade respectively. Because International says the shoe is designed to be robust, easy to clean and easy to use. It is also light and able to be compressed for transportation, meaning lots of pairs can be delivered at the same time.
The first prototype of The Shoe That Grows was created in 2012 and the first completed batch of the final design began being distributed late last year. A crowdfunding campaign is currently underway to help produce and deliver the next batch of shoes.
The video below provides an introduction to The Shoe That Grows.
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