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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

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In Living

When was the last time you walked around barefoot?

Bare your soles for a Day Without Shoes


It's a common stereotype in this country and others where the majority of the population has the means to spend money on fun little extras: "My wife has a different pair of shoes for every day of the year."

It's a silly, yet harmless extravagance but it's also a luxury we take for granted. In many places around the world, there are adults and children who don't even own one pair of shoes and it has a harsh impact on their health.

Tom's Shoes, a California-based shoe company recognized this problem years ago and founder Blake Mycoskie built his company to help solve it.

Tom's designs and sells lightweight canvas and cotton slip-ons and for each pair sold the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need in a developing country.

In an effort to promote its mission even further, Tom's launched One Day Without Shoes. On Thursday, April 8, the company asks people to go the day, part of the day or even just a few minutes barefoot to experience a life without shoes first-hand. Mycoskie says it's meant to spread awareness about the impact a simple pair of shoes can have on a child's life.

The facts about a barefoot existence are saddening, especially in countries where children often walk miles for food, clean water and medical attention. The cuts and sores on their feet can lead to serious infection. In Ethiopia, for example, approximately one million people are suffering from Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil. Podoconiosis is 100 percent preventable by wearing shoes.

In some developing countries, children are not allowed to attend school unless they have shoes on their feet.

"The problem is large, but the solution is simple," says Mycoskie. "Wearing shoes and practicing basic hygiene can prevent both infection and disease due to unsafe roads and contaminated soil. By imagining a life barefoot, we can all contribute to the awareness of these conditions."

There are many creative ways to participate in One Day Without Shoes: Walk for an hour barefoot after work, plan a barefoot evening event or breakfast with friends, participate simply by sharing the message with friends who are able go with no shoes. Communities, campuses, organizations and individuals across the country are finding ways to help.

Here in Milwaukee, Marquette University student Matt Hetrick has organized an event for his campus.

"Students and some faculty will be going about their day, on campus, barefoot to raise awareness for this cause. There are currently 975 participants at Marquette and there have been about 250 shirts made for the participants."

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is also participating as a campus.


Talkbacks

Z_boy | April 8, 2010 at 7:45 a.m. (report)

For all those men with foot fetishes, seeing all those women strutting around with barefeet is like a gift from god!

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rbunz | April 7, 2010 at 12:53 p.m. (report)

However, it's been proven time and again that barefoot running and walking is actually good for you. Don't believe me? http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/indexNA.cfm##

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devidia | April 7, 2010 at 12:22 p.m. (report)

Diabetics also should NOT walk around barefoot due to increased injury and infection risk.

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