New kicks for 155 Montreal high school students keep teens walking on the airwaves


Maya Majdoub, a Secondary 4 student at James Lyng High School in Montreal, says her new kicks will get her off the sidelines in gym class.

“I love them. My old shoes hurt my feet a lot because they’re usually flat and this one has a curve,” she said.

“I feel a lot better with walking and all that.”

She is one of 155 students at James Lyng High School in Montreal who kicked off the week with a brand new pair of sneakers on Monday morning.

All thanks to a shoe drive organized by a former intern at the school, located in the southwestern district of Saint-Henri.

Julian Grau-Brown said after a successful campaign last year he decided to start over because it helps so many students and their families.

“I remember when I was in high school. It was so important to me to start the brand new year off with a brand new pair of sneakers,” Grau-Brown said. “I know it’s not affordable for everyone.”

“I will probably participate more in gymnastics classes because it will definitely help me run,” says Maya Majdoub, a Secondary 4 student at James Lyng High School. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

He donated 15 more pairs of shoes this year than last year. As he is currently finishing his university studies, he said he hopes to expand the shoe drive to more Montreal high schools in the future.

James Lyng High School principal Giovanni Iammarrone said he was actually Grau-Brown’s teacher at Laurier Macdonald High School in the Saint-Léonard borough of Montreal.

He said he wasn’t surprised to see Grau-Brown doing this now.

“Really, he’s a really great person,” he said.

“As educators, all we can really hope for is that when our children leave the classroom, they will have a positive impact on society and today we are seeing it.”

Secondary 5 student Guandique Richards Nichols said many people around the world didn’t have shoes and her new pair was a fresh start.

“Due to personal issues or issues at home and such, not everyone can afford it,” he said. “So it’s good to have free shoes.”

For more photos from Monday’s shoe giveaway, scroll down:

Guandique Richards Nichols says not everyone can afford new shoes. He says the first thing he’s going to do is post photos of his new shoes on social media. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

Students at James Lyng High School were able to check out 155 free pairs of new shoes on Monday. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

Secondary 3 Trinity Clayborn says her old shoes were all worn out from being outside in the mud and stuff, so “getting them for free is actually kind of cool.” (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

All kinds of shoes were distributed to students from companies like Nike and Converse. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

Secondary 5 student Morgan Despotovich-Larose says he feels like “a new human being just out of his shell” in his new shoes. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

There were also Addidas, Filas, Vans and more for students, stacked on tables. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)


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