Nike, Tobie Hatfield, and Matthew Walzer
Last year, Nike developed and released a line of sneakers designed specifically for people with disabilities, with a fresh range of offerings for both kids and adults. The shoes all feature the FLYEASE entry system, which relies on a wraparound zipper to secure the shoe and features a larger opening to make it easier to slide feet in and out.
Nike was inspired to develop the unique system after hearing from then 16-year-old Matthew Walzer in 2012. Walzer, who has cerebral palsy, reached out to Nike requesting more accessible footwear so that he would be able to go off to college without needing assistance tying his shoes. Nike designer Tobie Hatfield worked with Walzer to perfect the FLYEASE design. The thought and passion behind the design of this shoe is inspirational, and there are plans to expand this line next year.
People with disabilities have limited choices when it comes to much of their lives, from transportation and where they live to what they wear. Nike’s FLYEASE shoe line provides choice and independence for individuals with I/DD when it comes to their footwear. Too often people assume if you have a disability you cannot be active, be an athlete, or even care about having a choice in what you wear. The FLYEASE line of shoes and Nike’s mission, “To provide inspiration and innovation to every athlete,” counter close-minded thinking and highlights the abilities of all individuals.