Tracking through the ever-changing New England terrain is by no means an easy task; the constant flux of weather, different textured paths and roadways and unexpected obstacles are challenging for foot travelers to make their way through. Luckily, there is appropriate equipment, apparel and footwear that makes the way of passage fast, convenient and most importantly, safe. But what if these resources were not available? What kinds of physical problems would arise from the ground into people’s bodies without proper footwear?
On Tuesday, April 10, Springfield College, along with thousands of other institutions worldwide, engaged in an event entitled One Day Without Shoes, which demonstrated just how difficult it is to manage without proper footwear. One Day Without Shoes is the official worldwide campaign to raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life.
The campus event was co-sponsored by the Springfield College Outreach Committee (S.C.O.C.) and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, it was internationally sponsored by Tom’s Corporation, a shoe manufacturing company that donates a pair of shoes to a third-world country for each pair bought by a customer. Junior Ashley Henry, president of Habitat for Humanity, along with senior Emma MacDougall, president of S.C.O.C., spearheaded the campaign to raise student awareness of how a few pairs of donated shoes can go a long way to help someone in need.
“It’s so easy,” said Henry. “I have so many pairs of shoes in my closest. To bring in a couple of pairs means the world to a kid that is going to receive them.”
Students may also be unaware of just how treacherous it is to go a full day without wearing any type of footwear, let alone weeks and months.
“When you actually have to go a full day without shoes, it hurts,” said Henry. “It makes you really sit down and think about kids who walk miles to get fresh water without shoes.”
There is substantial research that shows just how detrimental and hazardous the lack of shoes, or any footwear for that matter, is for individuals. According to the official website of One Day Without Shoes, four million people worldwide have podoconiosis, a debilitating soil-based disease that leads to the disfiguring of the feet. In addition, 74 million people worldwide have hookworm, a disease that causes intestinal pain, weakness and cognitive impairment. Dangerous debris lying on the ground, such as glass and plastic, are also perilous for those who are unable to afford shoes. In fact, there are 30,000 people in the Philippines who all live on one landfill where many live without shoes and are exposed to this dangerous debris.
“All those people are exposed to things like glass and syringes on the ground,” said Emma MacDougall. “There’s so much around that people can step or fall onto, and they can really hurt themselves.”
On Tuesday, there were several blurbs communicating this data, along other awareness messages written in chalk on the sidewalks across campus. There were also flip flops with similar messages written on them scattered across campus.
One of the primary goals of the event was to bring global issues to the forefront and allow students to get a glimpse of the world outside of Springfield College.
“I feel we’re so secluded here on a nice college campus,” said Henry. “People tend to be more concerned with the here and now. Those children that are living in a landfill in the Philippines are often pushed to the back. It’s nice to have an event like this that is in your face and says that there is a world outside of our campus.”
Junior Laura Russett, who was just elected new president for S.C.O.C. for next year, believes that students, along with any privileged American, can truly make a difference in the world just by donating shoes.
“We have so many privileges and so much power,” said Russett. “We have so much that we don’t need and we should use that power for the greater good. We need to take this opportunity to help people. There’s a lot of people who might want to help, but they can’t or don’t know how to.”
For any students on campus that would like to donate old or new shoes to help out those in need, they can drop them off either in the Habitat for Humanity or S.C.O.C offices located in the student volunteer office in the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union. There is also a shoe bin located near the main stairwell in the Union. For any further information, please contact Ashley Henry at ahenry2@SpringfieldCollege.edu or Emma McDougall at firstname.lastname@example.org.