Across the country kids are heading back to school, excited for the new year and confident of a year full of possibility. Self-confidence helps kids to get the new year started on the right track, confidence that starts with something as simple as a new pair of shoes.
In July, The NASCAR Foundation held its second annual Speediatrics Fun Day Festival in Daytona Beach in partnership with Brown & Brown Insurance. Through this effort, 511 children from the local community received a new pair of athletic shoes, something that will make starting the new year a little bit easier for many.
"The kids were excited, and we started seeing a lot of the kids wearing their new shoes", David Hinson, Volusia County recreation superintendent said. "The parents were so thankful because the kids are going to use their shoes for school."
In addition to groups from Volusia County Parks and Recreation, kids attending camps at several Volusia Flagler YMCA family centers also received new shoes.
"Attending the Fun Day Festival was a great experience that meant so much to our kids and their families." Liz Kammer, Volusia Flagler Family YMCA vice president of youth development said. "For a lot of the kids, the shoes they received were the first new pair they have gotten in over a year."
For many of the kids that attended the Fun Day Festival, going back to school can be a reminder of their family’s tough financial situation, making the impact of a new pair of shoes event greater.
"All of our camp sites are in areas where there are financial struggles," Hinson said. "A couple of kids told us that they had never gotten a name brand shoe before. It bothers me to hear that these kids are so aware of how their shoes aren’t a popular name brand or don’t look like others."
The NASCAR Foundation worked with, Shoes That Fit, a non-profit organization that delivers more than 120,000 shoes annually. Shoes That Fit data shows a nearly 68 percent increase in sports and physical activity and a 39 percent increase in attendance upon receiving their new athletic shoes.
"When you give a child a new pair of shoes, you’re also telling them that life is full of possibilities," Amy Fass, Shoes That Fit executive director said. "They light up, they become more confident, they are excited because someone believes in them enough to give them this gift."
At the YMCA, a young girl named Addison has found that confidence.
"She swears that the shoes make her run faster!" Kammer said, "She just won’t take them off."
The Speediatrics Fun Day Festivals are an initiative of The NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Children’s Fund, which supports needs expressed by hospitals, specialty clinics, camps and other organizations providing medical and health care services in NASCAR racing communities.