Teen puts heart and ‘sole’ into shoe drive

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More than 100 Winnipeggers are walking around a little easier thanks to Rohan Sethi.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/08/2019 (1212 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

More than 100 Winnipeggers are walking around a little easier thanks to Rohan Sethi.

Earlier this year, the 16-year-old organized a successful drive that collected 150 pairs of gently used shoes and more than $500 for Winnipeggers in need.

Sethi spearheaded the drive as a result of his involvement in the Human Rights Initiative club at St. Paul’s High School. The group meets to discuss issues facing folks at St. Paul’s, in Winnipeg and around the world who are marginalized and at risk.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS St. Paul’s High School student Rohan Sethi, seen here with Sunshine House Street Feet program co-ordinator Edith Allec, collected 150 pairs of shoes and more than $500 as part of a successful drive he organized earlier this year.

Group members participate in campaigns and fundraisers to raise greater awareness among the student body about human-rights issues.

Sethi came up with the idea for the shoe drive after spending time reading news articles about the struggles many Winnipeggers face.

He noticed that collection drives typically gather hygiene products, food and clothing, but not footwear.

“It’s something we don’t often talk about or hear about — the importance of reliable shoes, especially for people whose primary means of transportation is walking,” Sethi says.

With assistance from his fellow students in the Human Rights Initiative, Sethi launched the month-long shoe drive in March.

Afterward, Sethi donated the shoes primarily to three places: Victoria General Hospital, Manitoba Housing and Sunshine House, a drop-in resource centre on Logan Avenue for homeless and street-involved people. Sethi donated the $500 to Sunshine House.

“One of my goals was to generate more awareness about the need for shoes, and to show (people) it doesn’t take a lot to make a positive and long-lasting impact on the lives of others,” he says.

Sethi credits his mother with raising him to give back to the community. Attending St. Paul’s has affected his desire to help those around him.

“Being a student at St. Paul’s, you hear a lot about the importance of being a man for others — being generous, considerate and compassionate toward others without expecting anything in return.”

To that end, Sethi volunteers at two assisted-living facilities for seniors — St.Amant, and in the cardiology lab at St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre.

Sethi enjoys studying science and will enter Grade 12 in a few weeks. He is currently in Australia with a few of his St. Paul’s peers, competing in the debate event at the World Scholar’s Cup.

In his free time, Sethi enjoys training to become a lifeguard, watching soccer and basketball, and spending time with his six-year-old sister.

Sethi is “a really special kid,” says Anna McGill, one of two teachers who oversee the Human Rights Initiative.

“He is incredibly dedicated and hard-working, and he’s a very positive person,” she says. “I’m really happy he’s getting the recognition he deserves.”

For Sethi, the shoe drive was just the beginning. “I’ll probably go back to the drawing board this fall and see what other needs can be addressed by another drive,” he says.

Anyone interested in following along as plans develop and potentially contributing can visit instagram.com/newpurposewpg.

“I’m excited for the opportunities that lie ahead,” he says. “I still feel there’s a lot more I can do.”

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

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