Inspiring Wellington teen rehoming 'lazy sneakers' to kids in need

Maia Mariner is not your typical 15-year-old - she has a lot of shoes, and just as much ambition.

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Maia Mariner takes pairs of lazy sneakers and gives them a new lease of life. Source: Seven Sharp

Her goal is to make sure that every Kiwi kid owns a good quality pair of sneakers – taking unused shoes and giving them something to do.

“You have these lazy sneakers that have not been put into action at all or in ages,” she told Seven Sharp.

“So, we encourage you to bring us your sneakers and we can put them back in to action.”

Three years ago, Maia noticed that some of her teammates couldn’t play basketball because they didn’t have the right shoes – so she decided to do something about it.

That's what led to the birth of Lazy Sneakers, the Wellington teenager's non-profit organisation helping children in need. 

Mariner says as many as 20 per cent of children with disabilities as well as 20 per cent of Māori and Pasifika kids suffer from material poverty.

“So, if we could reduce those numbers and get it down to zero, that’s the main goal.”

She’s set up 10 collection sites around the country for donated shoes, mostly in Wellington and Auckland.

They’re also looking to expand further as well as putting collection sites inside some Les Mills gyms.

In the past few years, Maia Mariner has helped collect about 4200 shoes – distributing more than 3000.

But her work hasn’t gone unnoticed, receiving praises from those at the very top.

“I was really shocked to get that recognition from the Queen and just received an email from the British High Commissioner.”

The shoes are taken into schools and lined up like “shopping aisles”, letting the kids shift through and find their very own special pairs.

She’s converted her parent’s garage into a home for each pair of donated sneakers while they wait for their new homes.

“We fully can't park our car in here just cause the sneakers take up so much space so we definitely need more storage, a storage unit of some kind just to store them away.”