PULLMAN, Wash. — It took 5,500 pairs of old athletic shoes, but Washington State University recyclers were able to earn NIKE Inc. funding to construct a playing surface made with Field Turf material for the WSU Children’s Center.

A year ago WSU was chosen as one of 25 recycling organizations to participate in the Reuse-A-Shoe program.

“The program is part of NIKES’ on-going efforts to increase physical activities of youth and give them the means to do it by donating sports surfaces made from recycled shoes to communities around the world,” said Judi Dunn, WSU recycling education coordinator.

WSU’s goal of 5,500 pairs of recycled athletic shoes made the school eligible for a new sports surface made from NIKE grind material. NIKE has budgeted $25,000 to support the play area.

Nike started the program in 1993 to resurface athletic fields, courts, tracks and playgrounds. Since the program began, 13 million shoes have been recycled.

Dunn said the success of the program can be measured by the number of shoes collected and the enthusiasm of the many area communities, business and agencies that participated. 

“We received help from the Tri-Cities urban campus, St. Vincent de Paul in Spokane, Girl Scout troops from Freeman – more than 70 miles away — and even a school in Idaho,” she said. 

WSU is already planning another recycling campaign and this time combining efforts with several rural areas.