Tagged with: ADA assistive technology athletes Cerebral Palsy coach disability exercise fitness inclusion Technology
“You have to watch this video.”
I heard that half a dozen times this week, and I said it half a dozen other times to other people. I posted it on my social media sites. It made me want to buy shoes. It made me want to buy Nike shoes … forever.
Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaNM_T1d1as
It’s background story of Matthew Walzer who has cerebral palsy and wrote to Nike executive Mark Parker a few years back asking if Nike could design a shoe for him. Walzer’s CP limited his motor skills in one hand, preventing him from tying his own shoe. The original letter to Parker explained that he was about to move away to college and could live on his own – except he couldn’t tie his shoes.
Nike designer Tobie Hatfield took the lead and the result was a pair of shoes given to Walzer that avoided the traditional lace-up function and instead had a zipper design.
When Walzer put them on his feet and zipped up for the first time by himself, he said, “I just felt this wave of independence that I had never gotten to experience before.”
Now, Nike is mass producing the Nike Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE: A shoe designed in the LeBron James line that incorporates zipper technology into a wrap that tightens the shoe around the ankle. Walzer met his basketball hero, James. Hatfield filled a void that had captivated him since one of Nike’s first employees, Jeff Johnson, who had endured a stroke and needed a new way to put on his shoes.
As the Nike family rallied to help one of their own, Johnson quickly corrected them to say the project should be more focused toward others in the population who can benefit from this type of brainpower. Thus, a greater group of people who actually do not put their shoes on just like everyone else was the benefactor.
“I think this is what we are supposed to do,” Hatfield says in the video.
Thank you, Nike, for accepting that challenge. Thank you for being at the forefront of serving all populations, all athletes and all abilities who are looking to complete a goal. Thank you for leading your competitors and proving why you are ahead of the game.
Twenty-five years after the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law, there are countless examples of how businesses and organizations throughout the United States are serving people with disabilities to the bare minimum of the law. Nike, however, provided us with an example of how a business has chosen to go well above that. What are your thoughts on the Nike Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE?