As our minds are still grappling with the horror of the Boston bombings, and our hearts are still hurting for the victims and their loved ones, there is something we can do today to help the lives of children around the world. Today is the day that, since 2007, has been designated by the shoe company TOMS as "One Day Without Shoes."
One of the most powerful and growing movements in business is the emphasis on giving back, as more and more companies are realizing they can make a difference in people's lives and at the same time improve their bottom line. It's an ethos exemplified by companies like Warby Parker, which donates a pair of eyeglasses to someone in need for every pair sold, and TOMS, which does the same with shoes through its global giving program, "One For One."
That effort, which has donated 2 million pairs of shoes to children in more than 50 countries worldwide, began when TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie -- who also answers to the title Chief Shoe Giver -- traveled to Argentina in 2006. He saw just how many challenges children face when they grow up without shoes, from infections and injury to reduced education opportunities, since many schools require children to wear shoes. So no shoes, no education, no future.
As Amanda Schwartz puts it in her blog post about Partners in Health's partnership with TOMS in Malawi, where many people have to walk five miles just to get to a health clinic: "Walking five miles anywhere is hard for most everyone. Walking five miles when you're sick is unimaginable. Walking five miles when you're sick and when you are a kid is terrifying. Can you imagine what it would be like to do that and to be barefoot?"
AOL and HuffPost have been observing and promoting "One Day Without Shoes" in our offices since 2011. (We also made a splash in the annual contest known as the Barefoot Challenge, placing third with around 2,000 employees pledged to go without shoes.) The TOMS tagline, "Leave Your Footprint," reflects how much we as individuals can be part of something bigger than ourselves. And, to put the spotlight on the effort, we've been posting blogs by people who are already getting involved and making a difference. There's TOMS Chief Giving Officer Sebastian Fries on the evolution of "One Day Without Shoes" to meet the changing needs of children around the world, Goods For Good founder Melissa Kushner on investing in the children of Malawi, and Ohio State University student Alexandra Constantinou on how going shoeless "inspires me to place myself in someone else's situation for one day."
And that's not the only issue one can take action on today. National Stress Awareness Day -- started by the nonprofit Health Resource Network, which has been celebrating April as Stress Awareness Month since 1992 -- is an opportunity to reflect on the things that cause you stress and the methods you can use to course-correct. At work, at home, and beyond, we are facing an epidemic of stress: In the last 30 years, self-reported stress has gone up 25 percent for men and 18 percent for women. We're surrounded by stressed-out leaders making terrible decisions. And the evidence is clear that as women scale new heights in the workplace, they pay a heavy price: Women in stressful jobs have a nearly 40 percent increased risk of heart disease and a 60 percent increased risk of diabetes compared to their less-stressed colleagues.
Which is why we at HuffPost launched a free app, GPS for the Soul, to track your stress level through your heart rate variability and help you de-stress by launching a personalized guide of the photos of your loved ones, music, poetry, etc., that help you get back to the centered place in your life. So there's no better time to download the app and set yourself on a course of -- as our 18 HuffPost lifestyle sections dedicated to the cause put it -- Less Stress, More Living. Here's a video to get you started:
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