Entrepreneurship is a way for individuals to be fulfilled, express their values, bring their ideas to life, gain control of their lives and contribute to their community. Entrepreneurial spirit is forged and evolves throughout one’s life in accordance with one’s personality, experience and environment

Nathan Gage and his James Lyng Secondary three students knock another project out of the park with “WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES” – a student-curated exhibition that showcases customized shoes, designed and painted by James Lyng High School students. I attended the vernissage and struck by how it made me reflect upon what symbols I would put on my shoes and I can’t remember the last time I went to an art show that left me with such an impression.

Embedded in each of their shoes are symbols which were chosen by the students to tell stories from their lives. Each pair of shoes is accompanied by a short film featuring students explaining the meaning behind their symbols.  The exhibition was conceived and carried out by Secondary 3 students in their Entrepreneurship class. This large-scale, interdisciplinary project involved classwork carried out in five different classes at James Lyng High School.

To help make the project happen, the class wrote Vans Shoes and received a donation of 24 pairs of white sneakers.

Participating students brainstormed meaningful symbols which they would later integrate in their shoe design. After writing about each symbol’s relevance, the students were provided with a new pair of all-white Vans sneakers. Students drew, stitched, painted and stenciled their symbols to create their customized shoes.

In March 2019, the shoes were showcased in a multi-media show curated by James Lyng’s Entrepreneurship class at the school’s Up Next Art Gallery. Each pair of shoes was accompanied by a short film in which the student artist tells the stories behind their symbols.

The students presented a short documentary chronicling the process of conceiving, organizing and curating the show which you can see above.

To complement the customized shoes, a large-scale mural, painted by students under the supervision of local artist, Haks, enhanced the gallery walls.


“It’s not just the fact that you get free shoes. It’s that you get to create something that no one else has, and you can do whatever you want on it,” says Secondary 5 student Keshaun Jarvis.

“It’s about how you feel at the end of the day. It’s a representation of what you think and what you feel.” Student organizer Colby McLean-Ross adds, “It was a deep and meaningful project. Thinking of what to put on the shoes was my favorite part, and now that I have the finished product, I really am proud.”

Walk a Mile was a local winner of the Osentreprende competition for Secondary Cycle 2.  

Strap on headphones and check out James Lyng’s music label website – www.upnextrecordings.com featuring music by their students.

Images from the documentary