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A Teen With Cerebral Palsy Helped Inspire And Design Nike’s ‘No Hands’ GO FlyEase Shoes

Since its founding in 1964, the Nike brand has become the world’s largest supplier and manufacturer of athletic shoes and other types of sports equipment. In so many ways, the Nike brand has inspired the world of fashion and athletic wear. So much so in fact that in recent years fashion and sportswear have developed a synergy of sorts where today’s models can be seen marching down couture runways in Nike sneakers and athletic gear. Still, when it comes to sportswear brands the accessibility of footwear remains overlooked.

Sixty-one million people in the US live with a diagnosed disability but few brands carry adaptive and or accessible shoes for people who are unable to put shoes on independently.

Fortunately, brands are working to make a change. Including Nike.

Yesterday, Nike debuted the GO FlyEase Hands-Free sneaker which was inspired by a letter written to the brand by a teenager with cerebral palsy.

The hands-free shoe was built with accessibility in mind and gives wearers a chance to slip in and out of the shoe without the use of hands. The shoes feature a “bi-stable hinge that enables the shoe to be secure in fully open and fully closed states” and has a tensioner that imitates the motion of kicking off a shoe to make getting in and out of the GO FlyEase easy. No hands required.

The incredible shoe has an incredibly inspiring story.

The team behind the GO FlyEase was inspired to create the shoe after receiving a letter in 2012 from Matthew Walzer, a teen with cerebral palsy. At the time, the teen asked Nike to create an athletic shoe for disabled people.

“The original concept behind this shoe was to support our adaptive athletes better.  And we just quickly, throughout the process, found that this shoe was really universal,” one of the designers who created the shoe explained in a video about the shoe called “Behind the Design” video. “You always design for the most extreme case, that’s the hardest thing to do. And then it opens it up to everybody.”

According to FastCompany, the original prototype for the Go Flyease was designed for a Nike employee who had survived a stroke. Walzer’s letter inspired Nike to invite him to collaborate on the design of the original adaptive shoe.

Speaking about the shoe, Walzer wrote “The FlyEase is for people of all abilities. Remarkable that one letter almost nine years ago continues to bring about so much change. A dope concept especially for adaptive athletes — let’s hope these shoes are widely accessible for those with accessibility needs.”

For now, Nike Members will have exclusive access to the shoe first.

The first launch of shoes shows that it includes three different colors and will be expected to hit shelves later this year for $120.

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