I decided to start the Barefoot Challenge to help raise awareness about child poverty in our world. This initiative was much more than just about shoes. It was about building a world where children don’t have to worry about never going to school, having a home to live in or seeing a doctor, one where children can grow up and be whoever they want to be in life.
The response from young people, adults and journalists alike throughout the world – many of whom participated – has been overwhelming, something I am very grateful for. In the past week, I have participated in 49 interviews with television networks, radio stations or newspapers from Canada, the United States, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, India, Switzerland, South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore. All of this helped make the Barefoot Challenge a truly global initiative.
I was honoured to be invited to the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday, April 22nd to hear my member of provincial parliament for Richmond Hill, Reza Moridi, read a statement about my Barefoot Challenge. It was great to see him kick off his shoes as well.
The entire week was full of events: stepping on broken glass, almost stepping on a nail, getting a few blisters, an unidentified rash on my feet, a lot of rough skin, being kicked out of gym class and off the tennis team, being recommended not to go on a field trip to St. Lawrence Market, and finally, not being allowed into Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store. It made me think of how many children throughout the world are excluded from participating in any favorite or necessary activities because they are too poor to afford shoes, or any other basic necessity.
Yet I decided to continue the barefoot initiative: nothing was going to stop me. Everyone faces adversity, but if you believe in something, you have to persevere. We can all learn about the importance of adversity from a very simple African proverb: “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”
There are some great photos of all the events and people who participated on the Barefoot Challenges Facebook Page.
We should all be inspired to get involved and make a difference no matter how rough our seas get. Just a month ago, I couldn’t imagine what it was like to live life without shoes. Well, now I can, even though it was only for a week. It was an experience I will never forget, and it reminds me that when we work together, we CAN make a difference. As Martin Luther King once wisely said: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
There were lots of positives: getting support and participation from thousands of people worldwide, strolling everywhere throughout the streets of downtown Toronto, the St. Lawrence Market, Bayview Village Mall and Chapters, and visiting the Ontario Legislature and its main grounds. This proves that there are a lot of good in people in this world who are willing to Make Change Now.
Again, thank you for Making Change!
P.S. I would be honored to meet each and every one of you at the next signing of my book, Making Change: Tips from an Underage Overachiever, taking place at Costco on Saturday, May 2 from 2:30 pm to 4 pm at 18182 Yonge St. in Newmarket, and Saturday, May 9 from 2:30 pm to 4 pm at 1 York Tech Drive in Markham. I hope to see you there!
P.P.S Watch for Sudokuhub, my new initiative that will allow you to make a difference online.
“Together We Can Make A Difference”