Shane Garver is Save the Children’s Deputy Director for its Kentucky programs. Through Giving Partner Save the Children’s Healthy Choices programs, new TOMS Sports Shoes are distributed to children in Kentucky and four other states in the U.S. Shane is also an avid outdoorsman, who knows a thing or two about healthy living and how shoes can play a role.
Read on to hear from Shane about healthy living in the United States…
Roughly 1 in every 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. In rural America, the statistics are even more staggering: over 50 percent of children in these areas are struggling with obesity, missing out on much of what it means to be a kid. The need for programs that teach children about healthy living, physical activity and nutrition is clear, but despite this, there are many barriers for children living in poverty without the opportunity to adapt a healthy and active lifestyle.
To help fight this epidemic, Save the Children developed the Healthy Choices program as part of its afterschool and summer programs here in the United States. The physical activity and nutrition program is full of cooperative games that get children active, having fun and keep their heart rates up. The hope is that these healthy activities will permeate children’s daily lives beyond the schoolyard, during the evenings and weekends and with their families.
Children in Save the Children’s programs often lack simple things like safe places to play, proper equipment, transportation and access to a supermarket with fresh produce. Our regional offices, like the one I run in Kentucky, work to break down those barriers, one by one. We’re excited to partner with TOMS to eliminate one key obstacle we’ve seen kids face: proper footwear.
This summer, I had the pleasure of working with some folks from TOMS. Together, we were able to bring smiles in Save the Children’s Healthy Choices program with a brand new pair of TOMS Sports Shoes for every child enrolled in the program. I can tell you firsthand that each one of those tiny, toothy grins were genuine. The shoes we distributed met a very practical need for safe footwear in these children’s lives.
I work as Save the Children’s Deputy Director for its Kentucky programs, and I’m also a lifelong athlete and farmer, so this need is one that I can resonate with personally. I understand the importance of having the right kind of shoe for the right situation. I am lucky enough to have the luxury of going to the closet and selecting the right pair of shoes for each task at hand. My dress shoes are pulled out for a day in the office, my soccer cleats are laced to provide traction for the big game and my steel-toed work boots are slid on for protection before I fire up the chainsaw for firewood on the farm.
However, most students in the areas Save the Children works simply can’t afford the same. Families in these communities work hard to provide for their children, but often struggle to provide the safe footwear a child needs to be active. We have seen child after child who outgrew their school shoes for the year and the only option the family can afford is a pair of flip flops. Together, by stepping in and providing these Sports Shoes, TOMS and Save the Children are giving kids what they need: a safe pair of athletic shoes to be active in and the opportunity to just be kids enjoying playtime. Together, we’re giving them a chance at a brighter and healthier future.