Blue Peter and Unicef launch Shoe Biz Appeal for Aids orphans
Today Blue Peter launches its 45th annual appeal. The Shoe Biz Appeal will ask children across the UK to collect shoes which will be recycled to raise money for children orphaned by Aids in Malawi, Southern Africa.
For the next three months, Blue Peter will be full of shoe collecting antics, shoe donating celebrities and hard hitting true life stories from Malawi.
Viewers will also be offered a complete interactive appeal online.
Viewers will be asked to get their hands on as many of the nation's unwanted shoes as possible, with an initial target of 500,000 pairs.
The recycled shoes will generate funds by being sold abroad in countries where people find it easier to afford second hand shoes.
For this reason, viewers will be asked only for matching pairs, securely fastened together.
Collected shoes can be dropped off at various shoe shops across the UK and any local BBC radio station.
Blue Peter will be working with Unicef, the United Nations' children's fund, whose Children's Corners offer real hope to a generation facing devastation.
In Malawi, somebody dies of an Aids related illness every eight minutes and as a result there are now more than 600,000 orphans.
These children are often left totally alone and at the very least traumatised and extremely vulnerable.
Children's Corners offer three essential things. They meet a child's physical and educational needs, they offer support through the pain of losing parents, and they offer the chance of a real childhood.
Shoe Biz shoes will pay for memory books, crayons, pens, blankets, cooking utensils, garden kits, footballs, goats, books, chairs, swings, scales, water pumps and the training of support workers.
Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon was deeply moved by spending time in Malawi.
She said: "I feel so proud that Blue Peter is helping in the fight against Aids.
"When you see the massive challenges faced by children left alone and often in charge of their brothers and sisters, you can't help but feel something has to be done.
"With two million shoes thrown away each week in the UK, I'm really confident Blue Peter viewers will step up to the mark and make a real difference."
Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones says: "The children I met in Malawi just wanted to kick a ball around and have fun together; but the sadness of their loss and the appalling difficulties of living without a mum or dad simply can't be faced alone."
The appeal is also aiming to enlist the help of UK schools by publishing teaching resources on the work in Malawi and offering a shoe pick-up service to schools that register on the appeal website.
Youth clubs and youth associations will also be offered branded shoe bags as an invitation to participate.
Following the November launch, the appeal will also include Wear Your Wellies To School Day when children will asked to contribute £1 for the privilege of wearing any footwear they like, whether it be wellies, flippers, rollerblades or flip-flops.
The appeal website will offer users a fuller picture of life in Malawi and the challenge of Aids. It will also provide a space to share thoughts on the appeal and experiences of shoe collecting.
The site will include games, movies, teaching resources, web diaries, a pick-up ordering facility and information for parents or guardians who want to talk in more detail with their children.
Blue Peter Editor Richard Marson says: "Aids is one of the biggest medical human issues facing the world. The Shoe Biz appeal offers Blue Peter viewers a real chance to help other children living with the impact of this terrible pandemic right now."