Can anyone make the world a better place? Californian schoolgirl Avery Hale certainly thinks so. She started the Step by Step organization when she was just 13 years old, to distribute unwanted shoes to people who need them in developing countries.
Redford Center: The Art of Activism. Let's listen, let's talk, let's act
AVERY HALE [Founder, Step by Step]
We were driving up this really steep hill to the village of Chumpe y Pokes. I remember seeing all of these kids up on a ridge and they saw the car coming and they all just ran down towards the school, and we got there and we unloaded all the duffel bags that we had. I think that everybody has to have something that inspires them, some moment that they realize that they can really make a difference, or figure out what they want to pursue. My parents traveled to Peru and they brought back a bunch of pictures of the kids that they visited. And some of them had no shoes and some of them were wearing tire-tread sandals. They had infected feet and they were cut up and bruised. And some people might see that and not want to do anything or not really think about it. But I knew I had to do something. From there I kind of gradually got into the whole process of collecting shoes. And then I talked to my friends about it, and they helped me get started. And eventually I went to Peru and donated them.
I was I think 12 years old. We got there and we kind of laid out the shoes in a classroom. We let them come in by grade and choose watch shoes they wanted or what we thought would fit them. There were so many shoes, there were over 200 pairs. It just inspired me even more to continue with what I was doing because I saw like how ecstatic they were with that one pair of shoes. My mission with Step by Step is to reach as many people as possible, both kids and adults, and provide them with a pair of durable, comfortable shoes that they can wear for hopefully a really long time.
Keen footwear and the North Face donated so many shoes, probably over a thousand pairs of shoes. The main thing that I've learned from this whole experience, I guess, is that you can be just a normal person and you can make such a huge difference. I mean, there are people, some of my close friends, who don't really even know that much about what I do. And when I'm at school, it's about like sports and friends and schoolwork and everything, and then when I come home that's like my time to work on the organization. There are small things that you can do; you can do something on your own. When people put their effort into one thing they can really get so much accomplished. I'm really looking to make a difference, not only in other countries with other villages and with giving them shoes, but also within my own community and having people kind of recognize that one person really can change another person's life.
A journey of a thousand miles ... begins with a single shoe