Imagine a shoe that not only provides comfort to your feet but also grows to adapt to your feet as you grow in age. This absolutely revolutionary idea-known as Shoe That Grows- that perfectly fits the description of a common adage- “an idea has an ability to change millions of lives” has not only been thought of but implemented in reality by Kenton Lee from Nampo, Idaho. These shoes have exclusively been made for the children living in multiple impoverished nations. Lee was working with bare-footed children in Kenya and this is what motivated him to produce shoes that would prevent numerous children (3 million worldwide to be precise) from becoming susceptible to soil-transmitted diseases.
Kenton Lee, who is a 2007 graduate with a degree in business administration and religion from Northwest Nazarene University, founded his nonprofit organization named Being International which was aimed for the upliftment and betterment of the penurious children. The idea, although originally thought by Kenton Lee, failed to strike a chord with the big shots in the footwear business like Nike, Adidas, Crocs, Toms and after getting turned down by multiple companies, he bought 20 pairs of Crocs and cut them up and pieced them together to figure out a design.
Being International collaborated with Proof of Concept from Portland, Oregon and in 2012, first prototype of the shoes was sent to Kenya to be tried by the kids there. Later on, the first official batch of 3,000 shoes was dispatched in the fall of 2014. The pair currently resembles like a robust sandal and is made of leather straps and compressed rubber soles, a material similar to the kind used in tires. The shoes come in two sizes—small, for kindergarteners to fourth graders, and large, for fifth through ninth graders—adjusting in three places. As for adjusting with age of its prospective user and time, straps on the heel and toe control the length of the shoe, while two on either side allow for different widths.
The shoes can expand up to five sizes and can last for at least five years. These rugged sandals are best suited for warm environments since part of the foot is still exposed and because of these shoes, many children in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Haiti have been shielded from soil-transmitted diseases and diseases that they may have incurred through rough terrain.
The shoes cost between $12 to $30. Furthermore, supporters can buy shoes at $10 a pair that go into a “duffel bag” belonging to different charitable groups that will ship once it contains 50 donated pairs. An interesting fact about the “Shoes that can grow” is that this invention came from the mind of a person who had no prior experience of working in a footwear industry and who was not a designer either. He was simply a man with an “idea”.
Kenton Lee, further, endeavors to establish manufacturing stations in the countries where these shoes are most widely used. These shoes have become immensely popular in Kenya, Ghana, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Columbia, Vietnam and Laos. Being International is now awaiting its next order of 5,000 shoes.(source)