‘The Kickback’

My name is Jamal Burger, and I am the founder but one of the many contributors who make The Kickback what it is today. The Kickback started off based on the intention of eradicating the complex kids in underserved communities face on a daily basis. I’ve always been baffled by the fact that the kids who need the most, often get the least. To me, it’s never made any sense.

Growing up, when I went from a kids’ size 6.5 to 7, the price jumped. And even though my mom shouldn’t have got me those nikes in a 6.5, it was an absolute “No,” when I asked for the Jordan 19s because the black and red colour way was still available around my birthday. That was right around the time, where I was old enough to be outside a bit longer so I figured I’d solve my own problems. From 13-15, until I got a job, I would steal to make money to get the things I felt like I needed to mask what I was really going through. A fresh pair of kicks always made others think you were doing alright. That’s all I wanted. All I needed, matter of fact was somebody to trust me and hire me so that I could begin helping myself to help my mom.

I get the job, but my friends don’t. What happens to them? They get used to stealing more, stealing bigger and it lands them on this track that has landed each and everyone of them either in jail at some point or dead. I found it ironic that brands would send me a few pairs each month. All I could think about was the fact that kids lose their life over things like these, and there’s more value for a brand to seed me a pair than to help the kids who look up what they promote, but don’t have the means to acquire such legally. It sucks, and I understand that everything takes time but for me I couldn’t wait.

The Kickback really did start when I gathered all the free shoes they gave me, and all the free shoes they gave my friends. We did a back to school event just hoping one kid wouldn’t have to steal anymore. We had so much fun that day, but we also learnt a lot too.

Long story short, ever since then each and every idea or event we’ve built out has been an improvement on the prior. 4 years later, we sit in a space where we’ve given out over 5000 pairs of brand or like new sneakers. And they all gotta be heat. Kids want to be acknowledged the right way, and no hand out is going to do the trick. The kicks we give out are trophies, letting the kids know we understand it’s not easy and this is our way of trying to help. You, your moms, and that dream of yours.

“I’ve always been baffled by the fact that the kids who need the most, often get the least. To me, it’s never made any sense.”

Jamal Burger

Moving forward, this really has become more than just the sneaker. I am truly grateful for this. Our mission now, is just staying true to why we started while stretching out as far as we can, keeping the vision intact. We’re here to redefine what charity looks and feels like. We want kids excited to come out to what we have happening and the only way to do that is to pay attention to them and their feelings before, during, and after. The purpose really is to connect kids globally and create a network we were never supposed to have access to. Next up, just expect cool ways for more people to engage with what we do and create. As we work towards this idea becoming self-sustaining, all we can do is stay curious and listen to the kids.

“Giving Always Outweighs Getting.”



words and photography by jamal burger


powered by #SDMfeatures

contribute to streetdreams.co?