Experts in health, childhood development, psychiatry and education all agree: happy, healthy and productive adults of the future are the children who attend school with comfort and dignity today. Without shoes that fit, children are subject to physical and emotional pain. Research shows that inadequate shoes are linked to school absenteeism, reduced physical activity, and low-self esteem Low self-esteem in children has been correlated with poor health, run-ins with the law, and limited economic prospects.

Since research shows having ill-fitting shoes can be such a stigmatizing experience for children, Shoes That Fit is committed to protecting the privacy of our sneaker recipients. That's just another reason our organization is one of the best-kept secrets in America!

Here's a sampling of what the experts have to say on the topic and links to even more information:

How New Shoes Make A Difference

From "Peer Pressure and Poverty: Exploring Fashion Brands and Consumption Symbolism Among Children of the British Poor" by Richard Elliot.

"Poorly fitted shoes can cause discomfort, injury and even permanent deformity. Soreness, blisters, calluses, and permanent disfigurements can be caused by habitually crowding one's feet into shoes that don't fit well."

"To assess the short- and long-term psychosocial effects of wearing modified shoes during childhood, we compared measures of self-esteem and self-image of 16 adults who wore shoe modifications during childhood with 92 adult controls. The treated cases characterized their remembrance of the experience through a subjective report questionnaire. Those who wore shoe modifications during childhood showed lower self-esteem than controls (p<.005). In addition, the treated recalled a decrease in their self-image (41%), the experience as negative (57%) being teased about their footwear (47%), and having their activities limited. "

"If a child is wearing branded trainers [a.k.a tennis shoes] they are seen as popular and able to fit in with their peers. These opinions are so strongly held that children would prefer to talk to someone wearing branded trainers than unbranded trainers. The children also feel pressure to wear the trainers that their friends wear, partly to make friends and fit in and partly of the teasing experienced if they are wearing unbranded clothes or are clearly from a poor home."

Download the whole report at

Self-Esteem and Appearance

From "Social Acceptance and Self Esteem : Turning the Sociometer To Interpersonal Value" by Danu Beltara Anthony.

"In most roles, appearance and popularity determine acceptance, so self-esteem is most attuned to those traits."

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Self Esteem and the Future

From "Low Self-Esteem During Adolescence Predicts Poor Health, Criminal Behavior, and Limited Economic Prospects During Adulthood" by Kali H. Trzesnewski, M. Brent Donnellan, Terrie E. Moffitt, Richard W. Robins, Richie Poulton and Avshalom Caspi

"Adolescents with low self-esteem were 2.13 times more likely to leave school early and were less likely to attend university... only 17% of adolescents with low self-esteem were free from (health) problems as adults, whereas 56% had multiple problems as adults. In contrast, 51% of adolescents with high self-esteem were free from problems as adults ... Adults with low-self esteem grew up to have more criminal convictions during adulthood."

Full report available here (special thanks to Terrie Moffitt for permission to publish this paper on the Shoes That Fit website)

Ill-Fitting Shoes a Barrier to Physical Activity

From "Flip Flops, Dress Clothes, and No Coat: Clothing Barriers to Children's Physical Activity in Child-Care Centers Identified From A Qualitative Study" by Kirsten A. Copeland, Susan N. Sherman, Cassandra A. Kendigh, Brian Saelens, and Heidi J. Kalkwarf.

"Inappropriate clothing (including shoes) may be an important barrier to children's physical activity in child-care settings, particularly if the clothing of a few children preclude physical activity for the remaining children."

Full report available at

Ill-Fitting Shoes Can Lead To Malformed Feet

From "The Effects of Shoe Design on Children Learning to Walk," by Howard J. Hillstrom, Ph.D, Paul Robert Scherer, DPM, MS, Melanie Buckland, PT, MPT, Corinne McCarthy, PT, DPT, MS, Cherri S. Choate, DPM, Andrew Phillip Kraszewski, David M. Scher, Jinsup Song, DPM, Ph.D

"At birth, a baby's foot is soft and comprised of cartilage. As they grow, the bones begin to ossify ... Not until age 5, do critical bones completely form, leaving open the possibility of malformation if proper footwear is not worn.... A child's foot is not fully formed until age 18, but the most critical development occurs in the first seven years. "

Learn more at