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Soles for a Cause

Eleanor Patterson, an Australian track and field athlete, joint holder of the world youth best and the outright holder of the Oceanian junior record for high jump, has donated dozens of her new and rarely used runners to ‘Soles for a Cause’.

“As an athlete I get sent a lot of shoes, and have a tonne lying around not going to any use,” Patterson told North Media.

“So, when I heard that ‘Soles for a Cause’ provides an easy channel for me to give them to kids who need them, it was a no brainer.”

Soles for a Cause, in partnership with The Huddle, Lion’s Club of Point Cook, Athletics Victoria and Athletics Australia, has donated more than 400 pairs of shoes to young people in Wyndham, to encourage participation in sports.

The shoes have been donated by elite athletes who have been looking to re-home near-new footwear obtained through sponsorship arrangements.

Patterson acknowledged her position is one of privilege.

“I grew up with a very fortunate childhood. I was used to having runners available to me, and it’s something so important for the kids to be able to be active and get involved,” she said.

“Providing access to tools for kids to stay active is really important. Exercise is such a great outlet for energy, but also teaches kids about ambition and working hard. And you never know where sport can take you in life.”

Soles for a Cause was founded by former North Melbourne employee Kayla de Bondt who used industry connections to get the initiative off the ground.

“I decided to start ‘Soles for a Cause’ after coming back to Australia after running in the States, I was still getting free gear, and couldn’t find anywhere to donate the extras I had,” de Bondt said.

“With the help of The Huddle and some of my friends (such as elite runners Brooke Stratton, Brett Robinson, and Eleanor Patterson) who are very good at sport (and had star power to their names to kick start the donations), ‘Soles for a Cause’ came about,” she explained.

“The main goal is to provide accessibility to tools (shoes) for communities in need so they can fully participate in sport.

"By doing this through recycling ‘pre loved’ and ‘gently worn’ shoes, we are empowering individuals to get more involved in sport and reach our overall goal of inclusivity and sustainability.”

From the Huddle’s perspective, ‘Soles for a Cause’ is a major assistance to local communities.

“Access to appropriate equipment, including footwear, is one of the greatest barriers to participation in sports and recreation in Wyndham,” John King, head of education and careers at The Huddle, said.

“Schools we work with regularly have teachers bringing in their old sneakers to donate to students, but they are not able to meet the demand for appropriate footwear.”

“By partnering with ‘Soles for a Cause’ and several other organisations such as The Running Club Yarraville, Lions Club, Athletics Victoria and Athletics Australia, The Huddle is able to support young people in Wyndham in a practical and effective manner.

“Not only does it provide them with a pair of new shoes, but it also allows them to benefit from the social connections, interactions and positive health benefits gained through being involved in sports and recreation activities."

The shoes have been donated to Physical Education departments at Manor Lakes P-12 College, Point Cook Senior Secondary College and The Grange P-12 College, providing hundreds of students with runners.

Email soles4acause@gmail.com to find out how you can get involved and see the difference that you can make.