Ashley’s varsity volleyball team was having a fantastic season and was probably headed to the state championship. But sadly, Ashley wasn’t going to be a part of it. Her old sneakers, with the treads worn smooth and barely held together by duct-tape, were unsafe to be worn on the court and her coach had made the decision to bench her until she got new shoes.
Ashley’s family couldn’t afford to purchase the new sneakers she needed, so she was forced to sit on the side lines and watch her teammates play as they got closer and closer to the championship…without her. Even worse than missing out on games though, Ashley felt she was missing out on her only opportunity to connect with her peers. Because of her family’s financial circumstances, she couldn’t afford to participate in many of the activities her friends enjoyed. Outside of volleyball and school, she spent the majority of her time at home, isolated from her peers. Not being able to share her team’s camaraderie on the court, Ashley saw her sense of belonging slipping away.
Luckily Ashley’s guidance counselor contacted Gotta Have Sole Foundation, the nonprofit founded by World of Children 2015 Youth Award honoree, Nicholas Lowinger. Gotta Have Sole immediately provided two options for brand-new sneakers and Ashley was able to choose the ones that fit her best.
Wearing her new shoes, Ashley re-joined her team and went on to play in the state championship game alongside her friends. Gotta Have Sole provided Ashley with much more than a new pair of sneakers – their simple gift of shoes gave her back her sense of belonging.
Nicholas Lowinger is the recipient of the 2015 World of Children Youth Award. To learn more about Nicholas and Gotta Have Sole Foundation visit: worldofchildren.org/nicholas