Old shoes put to use

Sydney Lanier fifth-grade student Casey Church gets excited as he holds up a pair of shoes Tuesday during a project in which students strung together donated shoes as part of a counting exercise.

ROB C. WITZEL/The Gaiinesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

The middle and high school students at Sidney Lanier School spent Tuesday afternoon completing their part of a National Geographic project that may end up in the Guinness Book of World Records.


Recycling shoes with other materials into playing surfaces

  • Number of shoes needed to make:

  • * Outdoor basketball court: 2,500 pairs

  • * Outdoor tennis court 2,500 pairs

  • * Mini soccer field: 10,000-20,000 pairs

  • * Playground: 2,500 pairs

  • * Indoor basketball court: 2,500 pairs

  • * Indoor synthetic basketball court: 2,500 pairs

  • Source: Nike

Since November, Sidney Lanier students have been collecting old tennis shoes. On Tuesday afternoon they tied together all the shoes they had gathered, resulting in a 178-foot-long chain of shoes. This morning the shoes are being sent to Washington, D.C., where staff at National Geographic Kids will attach them to other chains of similarly discarded and tied shoes in an effort to create the world's longest shoe chain and set an official record under Guinness guidelines.

"Then the shoes will go to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program," said Carol Wilt, a registered nurse who also serves as the wellness program coordinator at Sidney Lanier. Wilt said students had discussed shoes as part of their daily walking program, including how to tell when you have outgrown your shoes.

"So with this program, we were able to talk about how we can recycle things we no longer use, including our shoes," Wilt said. "Wellness is not just about us as individuals, but about how our health and well being can have a positive effect on others in our community and world."

According to Nike's Web site, three types of materials from tennis shoes are recycled - rubber from the outsole, foam from the midsole, and fabric from the upper part of the shoes. The company has two centers that recycle shoes into materials that can be used to surface basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, and running tracks.

Sidney Lanier principal Cathy Costello said the students also got a few math lessons by doing things like measuring how far the completed shoe chain stretched.

"And this was fun, for all of us," Costello said. "This is something we could do to learn more about working as a team."

Karen Voyles can be reached at 352-359-5656 or kvoyles@gmail.com.

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