Shoes and skateboarding were two things I loved as a teenager. And while I managed to put my feet in every tauntingly gorgeous pair of shoes I met over the years, I typically (and wisely) kept my feet off of a moving skateboard. Well, here is something not so typical and wise involving both shoes and skateboards. TOMS shoes and Element have collaborated to give shoes and skateboards to children in need around the world.
TOMS and Element have created several limited edition canvas slip-on shoes for men and women (US$46) which you can buy online (with free shipping in the U.S.). For every pair of these or any other TOMS shoes purchased (even Tiny TOMS for kids), TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. Since 2006, TOMS has given over 10,000 pairs of shoes to children in Argentina and 50,000 pairs to children in South Africa; and in 2008 expected to give 200,000 pairs.
Element has also created a TOMS + Element skateboard with an all natural construction of hard maple and top layer of bamboo (US$150); or you can just buy the deck (US$60). For every TOMS + Element skateboard purchased, Element gives a skateboard to a child outside of Durban, South Africa to provide refuge from the dangerous areas in which they live. Element has also developed a non-profit, youth-based organization called Elemental Awareness whose mission is to reach out to youth through the avenues of skateboarding and education in order to develop self-esteem, awareness, and the tools to lead successful lives. Elemental Awareness is founded upon the believe that a person can positively impact their world through involvement in their passions. Now that is something I aspire to do everyday.
If you or your kids love skateboarding, you will also love the work of the Uganda Skateboard Union which built the first skateboard park in Uganda for the boys in the Kitintale, Kampale district. It is beautiful and inspiring to see how skateboarding (the once not-so-loved by the local cops in our American suburbs) is now spreading love around the world.