Nike has designed a new shoe specifically for people with a disability.
Tying up and wearing shoes is a daily task that is perceived as mundane and more often than not is taken for granted. But for some people in the community, this task can be an embarrassing practice, because their disability prevents them from tying up their own shoe laces.
This was the case for college student Matthew Walzer, who up until recently was subjected to the daily embarrassment of having his parents tie up his shoes because his hands lack the dexterity to do so due to Cerebral Palsy.
Walzer was born two months premature, weighing only two pounds, 14 ounces, with under-developed lungs that led to Cerebral Palsy.
He overcame many of the physical limitations doctors predicted for him, but tying his shoes remained a challenge, as he only has flexibility in one hand. Being a college freshman is daunting enough, but the thought of having to rely on others to tie his shoes prompted Walzer to write Nike:
“My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day. I’ve worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I can only wear this type of shoe, because I need ankle support to walk. At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing.”
Walzer’s letter inspired Nike designer Tobie Hatfield to create the ‘Flyease’.
The ‘Zoom Solider 8’ which was launched on Monday is a shoe that was designed for people with a disability such as amputees and stroke-victims.
The Shoe itself features a unique zipper system that zips up around the heel/ankle, making the everyday task easier and more accessible for those with poor dexterity whilst also providing ample support.
NBA star LeBron James was closely involved in the process of developing the shoe. “There is a real need for a solution like this and it feels good to be a part of something that is going to help so many people,” James said on Nike.com.
Pairs of the Flyease will be sent to two American basketball teams competing in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles starting in July. Nike are also working with the US Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby side to come up with products to suit them.