By Erica Beauplan
Led by the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, students joined the national movement initiated by philanthropic company TOMS shoes to raise awareness on “National One Day Without Shoes” Day on April 5th, 2011.
The event focused on the global need to provide simple footwear to individuals in under-served areas. A number of students and faculty members shed their shoes upon entering the building and spent the day in socks, with even a few brave souls venturing so far as to go completely bare and prance about with naked feet.
Even those not participating in the program were greeted by reminders and facts about the implications of not being able to afford shoes around the world by flyers posted all over the campus, as well as being directed to ways in which they can do their part to help alleviate the situation.
The event is organized and promoted nationally each year through the TOMS, a footwear company uniquely designed to operate as both a for-profit and non-profit corporation all at once. The creator Blake Mycoskie created a business model called “One for One”, a promise to consumers that for each individual pair of shoes sold, there will be an equal donation of a pair of shoes to a child in need abroad.
Why shoes? Besides the fact that we overlook shoes as being important because of our readily available access to them, Mycoskie stressed that shoes go much past being a fashion statement. He was inspired to donate shoes when he learned about the various implication of not having them including health risks and general access to other services.
In terms of physical health, Mycoskie learned of several diseases passed via soil transmission. One of which is, Podoconiosis, a mainly tropical disease also known as “mossy foot”. Stepping on silica-rich soil is enough to transmit Podoconiosis which is a disease known for disfiguring and swelling that leads to the enlargement of the feet and legs to the point where the ability to walk is completely lost. Podoconiosis tends to be prominent in soil-rich countries lying near the equator. Countries like Ethiopia are especially affected.
Ever heard of no shoes, no service? In many countries, shoes are also a necessity to perform basic tasks such as attending school to receive an education.
These are just a few of the reasons that highlight the importance of an individual owning a simple pair of shoes.
Since its inception in 2006, over 20 countries have been the recipients of shoe donations and shoe drops through the TOMS corporation, including the United States, Haiti, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Rwanda, South Africa and many more. They have also made plans to create partnerships with various countries that would allow them to expand the “One for One” business model to include other commodities like water and housing. For more information please visit www.toms.com.