By Lila Moore, Staff Writer

Kaitlyn Johnson

Kaitlyn Johnson (Courtesy of Kaitlyn Johnson).

   The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) hosted a “Day of Fitness with No Shoes” on April 12th  at the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC), as well as on Mantor Green, in an effort to promote Tom’s “A Day Without Shoes” campaign.

   Throughout the day, different activities where scheduled in which students were able to participate barefoot. These activities included: Zumba, soccer, athletic conditioning, dodge ball and Guts and Butts, which were all led by FRC employees.

   This intent of this event was to raise awareness for “A Day Without Shoes”, a national program led by the shoe company TOMS, whose goal is to provide shoes to children in third world countries that otherwise would not be able to afford them. For each Tom’s pair of canvas shoes that are purchased, a pair is sent to a child in need in Africa.

   “One Day Without Shoes is TOMS global awareness campaign to shed light on the social, economic, and health related issues associated with not having shoes,” said Kaitlyn Johnson, a senior and Global Health major at UMF, as well as the assistant Aquatic Director at the FRC.

   Johnson was one of the leaders in organizing the event on UMF campus. “A few students put on [similar] events on campus last year and then this year Jen Pageot, from the FRC, heard about the event at a conference and wanted some students to put something together,” said Johnson in a recent e-mail interview. “I reached out to Jacob Marcoux to help me put this shindig on and he more than delivered.”

   On the day of the event, light sprinkles of rain and slight gusts of wind tossed the trees outside the large FRC building on Quebec street, but inside there was excitement in the air.

   The courts were buzzing with students and community members dancing, dodging balls and working up a sweat, all in an effort to have fun as well as represent a good cause. “There’s no competition or fundraising, just awareness,” said Johnson.

   Even with the less than desirable weather, participants were found playing barefoot outdoors. “As I type this [Jacob Marcoux] is out on Mantor Green playing soccer without shoes,” said Johnson.

   The staff of the FRC hoped that this event would give the community members, but most especially students, a sense of humbleness to be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to receive an education and wear the clothes on their backs (or in this case, feet.) “Most schools in developing countries require uniforms and shoes so some children completely miss out on an education solely because their family cannot afford a pair of shoes,” said Johnson.

   Although the event on UMF campus is now over, readers are encouraged to learn more about the TOMS national campaign and to help in any way they can, whether it is to buy a pair of their many styles of canvas shoes or help spread the awareness further.