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Sport Champion Now Champions For Others

In My Shoes: A Social Movement By Dipna Lim Prasad

For change to happen, all it needs is one person. Living in a first world country like Singapore may have unknowingly created apathetic citizens instead of a generous society. However, every now and then arise situations that open our eyes to the needs around us.

And for Singapore Sports School alumna Dipna Lim Prasad, it was during a coaching session at a girls’ home which triggered her to start In My Shoes (IMS). IMS, a social initiative founded and launched in the first quarter of 2017 by Dipna and partner James Walton, Sports Business Group Leader at Deloitte Southeast Asia, collects sports shoes and redistributes them to underprivileged and at-risk youths.

The former national hurdler shares what inspired this movement and how ordinary people like us can make a difference in the world.

Q: What inspired you to start In My Shoes?
A: I was coaching at a girls’ home in 2016 and noticed that some of the girls would turn up for practice in slippers and sandals as they did not have sport shoes. As an athlete, I learnt the importance of proper footwear for injury prevention especially, and I wanted the girls to be able to participate in training fully without the limitation of incorrect shoes.

Q: What is the aim of In My Shoes?
A: To provide an opportunity for all to play sport regardless of their financial situation. Our first step is in providing the right footwear to do so.

Q: Share the activities and events that you do?
A: We receive shoe donations through our two collection points and ad-hoc shoe donation drives (e.g. Shape Run, SG Kindness Run and corporate donations). The collected shoes are then cleaned. At the same time, we collate requests for shoes, matching the requested shoe sizes with what we have and deliver them to their new #solemates! We’ve given shoes to amazing organisations like REACH, Mendaki, and SportCares, to name a few.

Q: What is the estimated outreach of your initiative to date?
A: We’ve given out more than 1,000 pairs of shoes. It’s given many the opportunity to play sport with appropriate footwear (minimising injury risks, etc). Other unexpected benefits were improved school attendance because these students want to go for their CCA after school.

Q: Any interesting experiences?
A: Once, while at a shoe collection drive located in a mall, we had laid out some of the donated shoes. A group of aunties came over and started checking them out. We were perplexed but let them be. Later, one of them approached us asking how much we were selling them for! We had a good laugh. But more seriously, that’s a testament to the generosity of our donors, and the quality of shoes that are distributed too.

Q: What are your goals for In My Shoes?
A: We have one main goal that is to provide sport shoes to youth who need them.

Q: How can Singaporeans help?
A: Donate their sport shoes! We have 2 collection points:

1) SportSingapore (Athlete Services Centre)
Address: 3 Stadium Drive
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 9.30 pm

2) BodyWatch Gym, Nanyang Polytechnic (Carpark 5)
Address: 180 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 9 pm; Saturday 9 am to 7 pm. Closed on Sundays.
Tel: 6550 1960

Q: What are your personal motivations for giving back to society and serving the community?
A: Sport has given me so much, hence I hope that I can continue to share my love for sport, especially running, to young individuals who can then be inspired and empowered through sport.

Q: How did sport play a part in raising your awareness to needs around you?
A: During my close to 20 years of being in competitive sport, I have been fortunate to have sponsors backing me, providing me with apparel, footwear and other products to help me excel in sport. I am grateful for their support and the abundant supply of training and competition items. Paying it forward is something that resonates deeply with me which made me think how I can support fellow athletes as well.
Sport cultivated good work ethic in me. Seeing some of these aspiring athletes train hard driven by the same love for the sport that I had pushes me to help them more.

Q: What advice do you have for you’re the younger generation?
A: People often assume that to help, they need to do something big – like start their own charity, or donate a million dollars. But really, it’s all about just providing simple acts of service where needed. I started In My Shoes because I noticed that some youths didn’t have access to proper footwear and there was no organisation in Singapore putting shoes on the feet of those who cannot afford them. I started small by giving away my own shoes, then asked some friends to contribute too and it grew from there. Spot a gap, then try to fill it. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.