KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Running around with no shoes sounds like something out of the caveman days. That's not the case though for kids in Uganda who run around barefoot. A group of students are making shoes a reality for these kids, and helping fight a health crisis.
Shoes. The J's , the Chucks, sandals, tennis, boots. The shoes make an outfit, but what happens when a the outfit becomes a shoe?
That's what David Scott, a social studies teacher at Roberstville Middle School, is asking students to do with jeans. Yes. A shoe made out of jeans.
"These parts will be the heel, and then there's also plastic part that will go in the heel to keep it from bending down and wearing down," says Tristin Del Toro, a student at Robertsville.
"I think it's cool. It's sad that the children in Uganda don't have shoes," says another student, Taliah Davis.
It's hard to imagine until you see the final product.
"I would wear them. Yeah, they look cool. They look like Tom's kind of," says student Jaiden Weston.
For now the tracing, the cutting, and furrowed brows have a greater purpose in mind than fashion.
"There's these sand fleas...jiggers...that get in their feet and they burrow down and make nests," says Maleah Monger.
"They can't play anything. It hurts so bad they can hardly walk," adds Del Toro.
Over a 100 kids gave of their time, coming in early, between classes, at lunch, and after school giving kids in Uganda a chance to prevent the spread of jiggers.
"You know there's a lot going on right now with testing, and Spring sports, and all that. It's amazing. I think it gives them something that they can put their stamp on and be really proud of," says one of the two teachers organizing this, David Scott.
This hasn't been the easiest of jobs.
"The jeans are hard to cut and the scissors are really dull. I have to keep sharpening them. That's probably the hardest thing," says Davis.
"It makes me feel good to know that the children and the young people that are working with this care enough about people that they will never meet," says Barbara Neal, the coordinator with Sole Hope. "Robertsville is definitely, definitely focused on Volunteer Spirit."
The cutout jean patterns will now go to Uganda where women there will sew them into shoes. They'll use rubber from old tires for the soles. Besides creating jobs, the safety pins holding the patterns are used to remove jiggers from the children's feet.