This coming June 1st, I’m participating in a very important initiative I started last year called the Barefoot Challenge. International Children’s Day takes place on the first of June each year, and to celebrate the occasion, I will live life without shoes. You heard me right, I will go to school, play sports, hang out with friends – and do everything else I usually do – completely barefoot.
Last year, hundreds of people from dozens of countries – especially youth – kicked off their shoes and participated. I am asking Canadians to do the same on June 1st to better understand the struggles faced by underprivileged children in the developing world.
I had the opportunity to participate in over 60 media interviews with newspapers and radio and TV stations Canada, the United States, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, India, Switzerland, South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore, and I plan to do the same this time around. This Barefoot Challenge is going to be bigger than ever before!
A few years ago, I visited Tanzania and Malawi in Africa and met with hundreds of children who walk miles every day barefoot to fetch water, work on their farm lands, or go to school. I watched as they played soccer on the hard, rocky sands of central Africa, and it made me think of what life would be like to live without something we take for granted.
But the Barefoot Challenge is about much more than just shoes. It’s about building a world where all children can go to school, have a home to live in, drink clean water and see a doctor when they’re sick, one where children can grow up and be whoever they want to be in life.
I remember the strange looks I received from people when I walked barefoot down the streets of Toronto last year. And when they asked me why I didn’t have shoes, I reminded them that too many children around the world didn’t either!
So I am urging you to participate in this year’s Barefoot Challenge. Ask your teacher if your classroom can go barefoot for an afternoon and discuss the important issue of child poverty. Even better, speak with your principal and ask if the entire school can get involved. I am happy to announce that my school, Lakefield College High School, is also taking part in the Challenge.
You can get family members, friends and neighbours to be a sponsor. Whether they promise five, ten, fifty or a hundred dollars, every effort counts. And if you get your class or school to participate, just image the difference we could make!
Once money is collected from your sponsors, you can donate to organizations like UNICEF by going to their WEBSITE (which is what I do), or the World Partnership Walk (organized by the Aga Khan Foundation). You could also donate to the children’s organizations of your choice as well.
In addition, participants could also help out locally in their community. This is your chance to think creatively and come up with your own fundraising ideas, too! By going barefoot, we have a huge opportunity to raise awareness about children’s rights. Like each of you, I believe that children throughout the world deserve equality and justice.
There’s a video on my YouTube page about the Challenge located HERE. In addition, you can go to the official Barefoot Challenge Facebook page by clicking HERE. And by all means, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your experiences. I would love to hear from you. So go barefoot this June 1st, and good luck!
“Together We Can Make A Difference”