On June 1, 2013, I’m participating with hundreds of people around the world in an important initiative I started five years ago. Called the Barefoot Challenge, I will live life without shoes. That’s right, I will go to school, hang out with friends, play sports – and do everything else I usually do – completely barefoot.
International Children’s Day takes place on the first of June each year, and the Barefoot Challenge is a great way to celebrate the occasion. Last year, hundreds of people from dozens of countries – especially students – 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. This year, the 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 rocky, red sands of central Africa, and it made me think of what life would be like to live without something as simple as wearing shoes on my feet.
But the Barefoot Challenge is about much more than that. 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 the 2013 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 participate.
Remember to ask family members, friends and neighbours to sponsor you. Whether they promise five, ten, fifty or a hundred dollars, every effort counts. And if you get your class or entire school to participate, just image how much of a 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 every year. By going barefoot, we have a huge opportunity to raise awareness about children’s rights. Like all of you, I believe that children throughout the world deserve a good start in life.
There’s a video on my website about the Challenge located HERE. In addition, you can go to the official Barefoot Challenge Facebook Event page by clicking HERE. And remember, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to send pictures of you and your friends going barefoot, and tell me about your experiences. I can’t wait to hear from you!
“Together We Can Make A Difference”