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Oneco Elementary girls fight obesity with shoe design

ONECO -- Ashley Amerson, 8, sports them on the modeling runway.

Jessica Avirett, 9, enjoys putting them on after a game of softball.

Logan Tackett, 8, prefers wearing them to the beach.

The Oneco Elementary girls, along with third-grade classmates Tiffany Garia-Terreco and Jeana Alexandre, both 9, recently designed a sporty shoe they’re hoping will interest Nike.

The students created the shoe as part of a collaborative international project called Walk Our World, a global initiative to fight childhood obesity. As part of the project, the children set examples by walking miles with students from across the globe. Their ultimate goal is to compile miles equivalent to a walk around the world.

Their teacher, Francie Snyder, says the students started the shoe project on March 1 after learning that the number of children who fight weight problems has doubled in the past 30 years. According to a just-released President’s Childhood Obesity Task Force report, nearly one in three children is overweight or obese.

During the three-month project, the group created the shoe in a collaborative effort with elementary students from Italy, New Zealand and Australia. The design was similar to storytelling around a campfire, with each group of students adding and changing the original design.

On April 13, the students met via video conference with DíWayne Edwards, Nike’s lead designer on the Air Jordan brand, to learn about shoe design.

After the session, the shoe’s initial design started inside the walls of Oneco Elementary when the girls picked out the shoe’s colors and materials, Jeana said.

“We’re trying to help kids fight obesity, so we were going for a tennis shoe that had cleats that would pop out,” Logan said. She hopes the shoe inspires children to get more involved in sports.

By the time it got to students in Australia, it turned into more of a sporty sandal, Tiffany added.

“It was different than how we started with it, but still similar,” Logan said. “It turned out so adorable.”

The students even created a commercial to advertise the sandal, which has a brown cleated base, a sporty back strap and a top strap with multi-colored flowers.

During the commercial, the girls boast how the sandal can be worn at the beach, at school and after sports.

“We love the shoe, and you should too,” the girls say in unison during one segment of the commercial.

Eventually, people can go online and vote for it, Snyder said. A web site for voting is not yet available, but it will be posted on the school’s website sometime after Memorial Day.

If it wins enough votes, Nike could pick it up and sell it, Ashley said.

Their group hasn’t named the sandal yet. But the group did decide that if Nike markets it, the girls will sell it cheap.

“It will go for $40 so it’s affordable to kids our age,” she said.

In addition to creating the sandal, during the Walk Our World project, students also created music using Garage Band tracks for their commercial. They also walked miles with other students at the school involved in the walking club by walking around the school’s bus loop.

Willis Elementary, which also walked miles to fight obesity, is the only other school in the district participating.

So far, Oneco students have walked close to 400 miles, Snyder said. By the end of the project this month, Snyder expects them to have walked 500 miles.