A 13 year old boy, Bilaal Rajan, has people of all ages
kicking off their shoes and going barefoot in support of his latest
June 1st is International Children's Day, and Rajan is
participating in an annual event he launched last year called the Barefoot
Challenge, where he lives life without shoes to raise awareness about child
poverty in the developing world.
countries in Africa and met with hundreds of children who walk miles every day barefoot to fetch
water, work on their farm lands, or go to school," says Rajan. "It made me think of what life would be like
to live without something we take for granted."
The Toronto-based UNICEF Youth Ambassador, best-selling
author, fundraiser, and social and environmental
activist and is already a serious force to be reckoned with. His best-selling book, Making Change: Tips from an Underage Overachiever
(160 pages, Orca
Book Publishers),is an operating
manual for making a difference, no matter what your age.
year, the idea gained momentum across Canada and with people in countries as
far away as Australia, Afghanistan, England, Switzerland, Thailand, Kenya,
Malawi and Tanzania. "In 2010,
the Barefoot Challenge is going to be bigger than ever before," adds
Rajan. His school, Lakefield College
School, is also taking part in the Challenge.
Since 2001, Rajan has been instrumental in raising millions
of dollars for various causes. Five
years ago, he was chosen as an official Youth Ambassador for UNICEF
Canada. Rajan is asking Barefoot
Challenge participants to have friends, family and neighbours sponsor them and
donate the proceeds to UNICEF Canada.
"This initiative is a call to action," he says. "And when people ask me why I don't have
shoes, I'll remind them that millions of children throughout the world don't
For more information, visit his website at