When a child is facing something like a serious or chronic illness, it’s the little things that can mean the most. Sometimes a simple gift like a pair of sneakers can make a difference. If they’re anything like the sneakers created by Peach’s Neet Feet, they’ll have a huge impact.

The sneakers created by this organization are each custom-painted to reflect the personality and interests of the child receiving them. When children live with an illness, their identity often gets subsumed by that illness, and they come to be defined by it. Peach’s Neet Feet, in addition to giving the kids a cool, stylish gift, also wants to help the world see the kids’ true personalities and remember that there’s a unique, vibrant person inside.

The shoes can take inspiration from anything, like this one showing the characters from Tangled

…or this one with the turtles from Finding Nemo.

Others just opt for a stylish decoration.

Here’s an in-progress sneaker showing how the artists design and put together an image for the shoes. It begins with a sketch and is followed by color blocking, line work, and detailing.

Peach’s Neet Feet was founded in 2011 by Madison “Peach” Steiner, who was looking for a way to combine her dual passions for art and spreading kindness. The organization started with a single pair of painted shoes and Steiner as the sole (pun intended) artist. Today, however, the project has grown to include many artists who help create and distribute personalized care packages for families along with the custom shoes.

Peach’s Neet Feet also strives to connect families and communities to resources, and to one another in the hopes of creating a space where are all children and families have the support systems they need to get through challenging times.

So why sneakers? Though they seem like everyday things, Steiner sees them as tools for showing the world that each child is unique, special, and loved. As her husband Nick explains, “One pair of shoes might be covered in Disney princesses and cancer ribbons, while another might be adorned with superheroes and pizza. If a child wants it — no matter what it is — it makes it onto their shoes.”

Even the simple promise that the kids can design their own sneakers with complete authority gives them a chance to shine. It brings them joy to see something they had a hand in creating. “These shoes, by nature, are tools of self-expression and great conversation starters,” Nick says. “The final message is clear to each shoe wearer: You are unique, beautiful, and incredibly valuable.”

The foundation has received recognition across the country and beyond.

Peach’s Neet Feet is also sponsored by larger companies like Vans and DecoArt, which provide them with shoes and art supplies when needed.

All the shoes are created by artists living across the U.S. who volunteer their time to create the one-of-a-kind shoes. Their styles vary, and together, they can pretty much recreate anything a child might want, from superheroes and movie characters to intricate, abstract designs.

The artists themselves are as diverse as their styles, and come from many different backgrounds, including parents, teachers, tattoo artists, and yoga instructors. Many have had cancer and other major health issues touch their lives as well. Each is passionate about showing kindness to children and families.

For Steiner and her staff, the purpose of Peach’s Neet Feet goes even deeper than providing some personalized joy to kids and their families. It’s all about showing others kindness, being compassionate and generous, and putting a little good into a world that’s often full of hardship. Steiner describes herself as a young activist who wants to live a purposeful life.

Aside from creating physical objects, Peach’s Neet Feet also organizes events so that children and families can connect and expand their support systems.

You can also find a number of inspiring T-shirts on the website, as well as opportunities to donate.

If you want to get involved, you can do so by donating on the Peach’s Neet Feet website, or by sponsoring a particular pair of shoes. You can also volunteer to host parties with the Peach crew at local hospitals and community centers, or to deliver shoes to recipients in your area. You can stay updated on the latest events by following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Original post Apr 2015: http://www.viralnova.com/peachs-neet-feet/