Photo (cc) by philwarren
There are but a few certainties in life – death, taxes and the lighting speed at which children outgrow their shoes.
For most of us, it is at least inconvenient — and expensive — to continually be replacing shoes for children.
But in the poorest parts of the world, when a child outgrows her shoes — if she is lucky enough to have a pair in the first place — replacing them can present a real hardship or be impossible. And having none raises serious health concerns.
This was what inspired Kenton Lee, an American aid worker living in Nairobi, Kenya, to create sandals that “grow” with a child for up to five years.
According to Lee’s website, shoes are important in protecting the foot from soil-transmitted parasites and diseases that enter through cuts or scrapes on the feet. The shoes that he developed, called “The Shoe That Grows,” adjust five sizes and last five years, “providing better protection and better health for children,” the website reads.
Lee says that during his time in Kenya, he noticed that many children didn’t have shoes, and if they did, they often didn’t fit, KPTV reports.
When [Lee] saw a young girl with the ends of her shoes cut off to let her toes stick out, he knew he had to do something.
“So right there, spur of the moment, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a pair of shoes that could adjust and expand their size? A pair of shoes that could grow?'”
The shoes are constructed from durable leather, metal snaps and compressed rubber, and they expand in three ways.
“It has snaps on the side to adjust for width, a buckle to fit the heel properly and snaps on the top that allow the sole to expand,” KPTV said.
The shoes cost just $10. Children in Kenya, Vietnam and Nicaragua, are already wearing them. (To learn more about the growing shoes, click here.)
Lee is focused on needy children in developing nations right now, so it’s unlikely you’ll see his growing shoe in a shoe store near you, at least not yet.
“I want to keep going and going and going until every child has a pair of shoes,” Lee told KPTV.
As a parent, it definitely made me think. Do you think Lee’s “growing” shoes could be adapted for consumers in the United States and other well-to-do markets? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.