“You loop, you swoop, you pull.”
“Bunny ears, Bunny ears, playing by a tree.
Criss-crossed the tree, trying to catch me.
Bunny ears, Bunny ears, jumped into the hole,
Popped out the other side beautiful and bold.”
“Over, under, pull it tight,
Make a bow, Pull it through to do it right.”
How did you learn to tie your own shoes? A cute little rhyme like the ones found above? Lots of practice? You’ve probably forgotten since you’ve tied your own shoes countless times. While tying one’s own shoes is noted as a milestone in early childhood, it soon turns into a monotonous task often taken for granted. However, for several individuals with disabilities, they can only dream of putting their shoes on independently. This week, Nike has launched FLYEASE, a groundbreaking shoe technology that can grant such independence.
Back in 2012, Matthew Walzer was preparing for his junior year of high school. Like many students his age, he began thinking about college. But unlike his fellow peers, his greatest concern wasn’t his choosing his major and college location, or applying for scholarships–it was being unable to tie and untie his own shoes. This prompted him to write a letter to Nike.
Walzer was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that, “among other things, stiffens the muscles in the body.” And while he overcame many physical limitations, tying his shoes remained impossible due to having flexibility in only one hand. In order to get his shoes on, he needed help from family and friends. In his letter to Nike, he wrote:
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 quickly landed in the hands of Nike CEO Tobie Hatfield, who has since been working with Walzer to create FLYEASE, an easy-entry sneaker line. So what sets these shoes apart from the rest? According to this article on CNET, “Instead of the traditional lacing system, the FLYEASE has a zipper that goes around the back of the shoe so you can zip the shoe open with one hand to more easily get a foot in or out.”
Check out this GIF demonstrating the FLYEASE sneaker, courtesy of Nike:
The FLYEASE sneaker line officially launched today on Nike.com and will be available in limited quantities.