The saying goes, "Walk a mile in someone else's shoes."
Students at Williamsport Area High School recently did just that. They took off their shoes to learn about how others live around the globe.
Students unlaced their sneakers and kicked off their sandals as they took a lap around the high school during TOMS One Day Without Shoes. This is the fifth year the event has taken place nationwide and the first for the school.
"As we're walking, you realize how difficult it can be without shoes," said Emma Radulski, sophomore participant. "Especially now because it's a little chilly but while we have the choice to walk without shoes, a lot of people don't."
The local event was organized by the school's National Art Honor Society, led by adviser Andrea McDonough Varner.
McDonough Varner said the goal of the event is to raise awareness to the many individuals around the world who go everyday without the comfort of shoes. She explained that an idea that hit closer to home for the Williamsport students is that children are not allowed to attend school without shoes, which blocks many from an education.
"The point is to be uncomfortable, to wonder what you're walking on - to raise awareness," McDonough Varner said.
And the light rain didn't deter walkers from going out and supporting the cause.
"If it rains (and) I'm a child in Vietnam and I don't have shoes and I have to walk. How am I going to get there?" McDonough Varner explained.
The art society has a history of working with TOMS, which gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for a pair purchased by a customer, by participating in two Style Your Sole programs. McDonough Varner added that after TOMS heard about their participation in previous events, they contacted her asking if the school would participate in the no shoes event.
After discussing it with her students and district administrators, the event was approved. But instead of having students go an entire school day without shoes, it was decided that students would be able to come in their free time to take a lap on a course, marked with signs giving statistics on children without shoes.
"I thought it was a really cool idea because I don't think a lot of people think about the less-fortunate because we're so concerned about our own lives," Radulski said.
McDonough Varner explained that besides students not being able to attend school, they also are more susceptible to diseases, such as hookworm, by not wearing shoes everyday.
Students said the event was eye-opening as to the conditions others experience on a daily basis.
"It hurt a lot," said Kelsie Harding, sophomore participant, "because we kept getting rocks stuck in our feet. I learned that we're a lot more fortunate than a lot of people around the world."
After returning to the school, walkers then traced their foot and hung it in the hall.
The excitement students had for the event and the willingness to participate was a great satisfaction to McDonough Varner. She added that the event could become an annual one at the high school.
"I'm proud," she said. "I'm proud that they are willing to make a choice to raise awareness. I'm inspired."
And students hope to continue making an impact after the event.
"I guess I'll just take away that we need to do more," Radulski said. "This is a great event to raise awareness, but we need to do more."