Nike Expands Shoe Line For People With Special Needs

Nike is adding to its lineup of sneakers designed specifically for people with disabilities, with a fresh range of offerings for both kids and adults.

The athletic-wear giant is introducing three new shoes that use its FLYEASE entry system, which relies on a wrap-around zipper to secure the shoe and features a larger opening to make it easier to slide feet in and out.

“Once zipped, FLYEASE provides performance-ready lockdown without the need for tying laces – perfect for athletes on the go and for those who may need a little extra assistance,” the company said in announcing the new products.

The LeBron Soldier 9 FLYEASE is now available on Nike’s website and in select markets. The Pegasus 32 FLYEASE will be available April 1 and the Flex Run FLYEASE will debut May 1, the company said. All three styles will be offered for both kids and adults.

Nike introduced its first FLYEASE shoe, the LeBron Soldier 8 FLYEASE, last summer in limited quantities online.

The company was inspired to develop the unique system after hearing from then-16-year-old Matthew Walzer in 2012. Walzer, who has cerebral palsy, requested more accessible footwear so that he would be able to go off to college without needing assistance tying his shoes.

“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 wrote.

Nike designer Tobie Hatfield worked with Walzer to perfect the FLYEASE design.

by Shaun Heasley | March 16, 2016