Maia Mariner spoke to Tawa Rotary on 15 Feb 2022 about her inspirational idea for Lazy Sneakers - a not for profit project to free up unused (lazy) sneakers to enable her peers to participate in sports.
Maia was only 12 when she developed this idea.  She noticed that some of her peers couldn't participate in sports because they didn't have the appropriate footwear.  Her idea was to set up a sneaker bank to help her friends playing basketball. Lazy Sneakers was launched in 2018.
Maia is now in Year 13.  She talked about material hardship that she could see in her community - not all things are equal and material poverty is a huge problem that we need to find ways to address. Through this venture, she noted that the 'demand is really there'. What started as a simple concept has grown to now providing sneakers for children, student athletes, families and social services in New Zealand.  Lazy Sneakers is also receiving international interest from Australia. 
With full support from her family, this project has extended to creating a movement.  A network of young ambassadors has been established to help with managing demand and distribution.  It's particularly important to show respect as conditions for distribution, so that recipients are treated well - no judgement for why they need sneakers.
An early indication of success is that over 7500 pairs of sneakers had been collected and 5700 pairs distributed for free - numbers have since grown. By end 2023, the goal is to collect 10,000 sneakers for distribution.
Current needs include more storage space for shoes and more marketing to recruit more young people to help with collection services across New Zealand. Lazy Sneakers has been established as a charitable trust.
Maia has received numerous awards for Lazy Sneakers including an invitation from the Governor General in 2018 and recognition from the Prime Minister in 2020.
Lazy Sneakers' motto is "motivate your sneakers. Be active in the world".
[pictured: Maia Mariner, founder of Lazy Sneakers]