Man Invents a Shoe That Grows (to Help Barefoot Kids)

© Because International
© Because International / © Because International

Back in 2007, Idaho native Kenton Lee was living and working in Nairobi when he was struck by how many kids were running around barefoot, or squeezing their feet into ill-fitting shoes. Clearly, the impoverished families in the area couldn’t afford to keep up with their kids' needs—and that’s when it hit him: what if he could create a single shoe that could grow with the kids' feet? According to Kenton Lee’s site, over 300 million children the world over go shoeless, and many of those are at risk for soil-transmitted parasites and diseases. His solution is the 5x5, an adjustable sandal that grows 5 sizes and lasts for 5 years.

© Because International

A small shoe is intended to keep a kid’s feet covered from kindergarten through 4th grade, while a large one will grow from an average 5th grader's shoe through 9th grade. From their Facebook page it looks like the shoe will be available in colors in the not-so-distant future. And best of all, it’s priced moderately—at scale, they’re just $12 a pair for shoes that will last a kid for 5 full years. Because International (the parent non-profit) is currently filling duffel bags full of shoes and exporting them to places in need, and if you’d like to pitch in for a pair (or more!), just follow the link here.