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Stepping up to help others

Maia Mariner helps people find a pair of shoes.
Maia Mariner helps people find a pair of shoes.

A Year 10 student is doing her bit to ensure no one is left out of playing sport due to footwear.

Maia Mariner started the Lazy Sneakers charity last year after noticing some of her teammates were unable to play sport because they didn’t have the right shoes.

“I noticed a lot of my friends didn’t have the proper footwear when playing sport, which meant they couldn’t participate. I talked to my parents, and we thought we could help out the community by starting Lazy Sneakers,” Maia explains.

The project works by asking people to donate sneakers that are still in good condition. They come through a collection point and are then distributed to different sports clubs around Wellington to aid would-be players in need of shoes.

“So far, we have collected over 700 pairs and donated 500. It’s my aim this year to have us donating 1,000,” Maia says.

Lazy Sneakers has been involved with sports clubs, including Wellington Basketball Association, Wellington Boxing Gym and Wellington Chinese and Cultural Sport, and Maia has plans to expand into Porirua and Wainuiomata. A recent highlight was providing a Porirua school with over 50 pairs of sneakers.

Another highlight for Maia was being asked to speak about Lazy Sneakers at the 125th Anniversary Celebrations of Women’s Suffrage last year. She was later invited to an afternoon celebration at Government House.

“I got to meet so many inspirational women, and the event was attended by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex,” she says.

This year, Maia will be completing a community project through the IB Middle Years Programme and says she wishes to broaden the scope of Lazy Sneakers as part of this.

“The community project will be an opportunity for me to expand Lazy Sneakers into schools in addition to sports clubs. I want to start a collection point at Queen Margaret College for girls to contribute to the cause.

“Working on Lazy Sneakers has been a really eye-opening experience for me because the issue wasn’t something I had ever really noticed before. Because it’s happening to my friends, I’ve become aware of it and it’s taught me how I can help others.”