Alaska teens that are part of the Lions youth organization, Leos, have tackled a major project to provide sturdy sandals for kids in the developing world that go barefoot or lack adequate footwear.
The shoes were developed by Kenton Lee of Nampa, ID in response to the needs of children he saw in Africa while a volunteer with an AIDS project. He designed a shoe that would grow (STG) with the child. The shoes have a unique buckle, snap and tab system that allows the shoe to grow five sizes. The shoe comes in two sizes (Small K-4th grade and Large 5th-9th grade), is made in several colors and will last five years. In the past two years, 30,000 plus pairs of STG have been distributed world-wide.
Lindsey Vance, a Junior at Eagle River HS and Past Pres. of the Eagle River Bear Mountain Leos, has been the key promoter of the project, states “When Leos learned that 200 million people in the world suffer from parasitic foot infection because they have no shoes or shoes that don’t fit, we thought we could make a difference. At $20 per pair, we thought this project was perfect fit for our major Leos Centennial Project – Lions will celebrate 100 years of service in 2017.
We have had a tremendous response from family members, Lions Cubs, individual Lions and the broader community. Our original goal was to raise $2,000 to send 100 pairs of the shoes to Kenya. We surpassed that goal at the state-wide Lions convention held in late April. We now have raised over $3600.00. Our plan is to raise additional funds so that we can send 100 pairs to Nepal in November of 2016 with an Anchorage-based NGO – Helping Hand for Nepal that has worked closely with Lions there for the past 17 years, 100 pairs to rural Kenya in May of 2017 with the Lemong’o Project that serves Massai people with Anchorage educator and project founder, Carolyn Teague and 100 pairs to help Mayan kids in Guatemala that will be delivered by an Alaskan humanitarian service team with strong Lion participation in July of 2017
As Leos we’re are very excited about this awesome project. Leo clubs in Anchorage are on board and our Leos in Kodiak will be raising funds at their booth at the annual Kodiak Crab Festival this month.”
Founded in 1957, Leo is the official youth organization of Lions International. The acronym is short hand for Leadership, Experience and Opportunity. The program emphasis is designed so that youth can have fun, develop leadership skills and serve their communities. There are 6,500 Leo clubs in 150 countries.
If you would like to learn more about lions please visit www.lionsclubs.org, or one of three clubs in the area, Chugiak Lions, Eagle River Lions and Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions. For more information, give Karen a call at 242-1129.