The music department’s Disney World field trip sparked an idea in senior Alex Curcio’s head: going barefoot.
Curcio said that similar to his five senses, being barefoot helps him connect with reality and use his body the way it was naturally designed, all to become more aware of the world around him.
“I took my shoes off while we were waiting in line to go home on buses,” Curcio said, referencing the trip. “I found that even though it was hard concrete and it was kind of cold outside, I enjoyed it, and something just told me that I felt more alive and more human.”
Curcio said he found barefoot walking and running can help reduce long-term injuries because the body is being used the way it was intended.
Curcio has been wearing zero-drop sandals, shoes with minimal cushioning and zero arch support when he’s not barefoot.
“I started talking to my chiropractor about barefooting and the benefits to the skeletal system, and then I started to consider the more philosophical or spiritual aspects of it,” Curcio said.
In addition to barefooting, Curcio has found he doesn’t need certain material products. For example, Curcio always used face wash to handle his acne, but after he stopped it, he said he noticed no change in his skin.
“I’ve sort of been figuring out I don’t really need [some things] and that everything that I really need or want to have, I have already inside of me or built into my body,” Curcio said.
Curcio’s mother, Jana Curcio, said she fully supports her son’s decision.
“He challenges me to be always looking for ways to simplify life, use less goods that impact our environment, be authentic, true to oneself and less concerned with what people think,” she said.
Curcio said the biggest challenge he faced on his barefoot trek is having to explain his decision to others.
“The biggest thing is all the question-answering I have to do at school,” Curcio said. “People are very interested, and I noticed that people look at me differently now.”
Curcio said he acknowledges that not everyone will agree with his barefoot lifestyle.
“On some level, I will accept that some people just get uncomfortable when they see barefoot people,” Curcio said. “I relinquish that freedom to them for their feeling of comfort, which I hope makes them feel better.”
Curcio’s girlfriend, senior Liliana Martinez, said she was worried how others would treat Curcio after learning he was going barefoot, but always has been supportive of his choice.
“He has gotten some negativity, unfortunately, and I think that was my biggest concern,” Martinez said.
Senior Naveen Wineland said he was curious about his friend’s decision but understood once he heard his reasoning.
“I agree with his overall philosophy, that it’s a good idea to be closer with nature,” Wineland said. “However, I don’t think it’s a good idea to practice that philosophy by risking your feet on disgusting school floors.”
Curcio said principal Jeffery Litz sent him an email saying his barefooting could lead to disciplinary consequences.
However, Curcio plans to continue. “I’ll just have to wear my sandals more,” Curcio said. “The only time I wear them is just when I’m going through the halls.”
Curcio said he frequently asks himself how often he can go barefoot throughout his day.
“I’d say that for the foreseeable future,” Curcio said, “I will be trying to be barefoot as much as possible, so get used to seeing my toes.”