I’ve been fascinated by sneakers and sport ever since I was a child. Today, I consider myself very fortunate to not only leverage this passion into a career, but also to utilize it beyond the office in a very meaningful way.
I founded ‘Sneakers for Success’, a non-profit organization, in 2013. Since then, I have been able to pass along my passion for sneakers to the rest of the community. The result has been truly rewarding.
Enabling youth to become creators
‘Sneakers for Success’ operates around a curriculum built around sneaker culture and design. It brings a unique and engaging form of education to youth in underserved communities. The goal is to empower academic success by using sneakers as a medium to keep students engaged and connected to the standard classroom material.
But just as much it’s about the sneakers, it’s also about exposing youth to ways they can transform their passion into anything. I simply want to provide resources to students at an earlier age to help them to leverage their creativity; to make the most of their lives.
“I want to help them to create something they truly care about.”
The power of sneaker culture
At first glance my enthusiasm for sneakers might be something very trivial. But it isn’t because when you start to think about it, so many others share this passion, and passion fuels creation. So many youth out there are sneaker heads, and this is what prompted me to begin the program in 2013. At that point, it seemed to me that ALL kids loved sneakers…
And indeed, from an education lens, the sneaker has an incredible cultural meaning in cities around the world; sneaker culture has been featured across all different mediums, like the “Just for Kicks” documentary, Bobbito Garcia’s “Where’d You Get Those” and the recent launch of the Brooklyn Museum’s “Rise of Sneaker Culture” exhibit. To most youth growing up in the city, the sneaker means everything. It’s about how they perform on the court or the confidence they get walking into school on their first day.
There are many students who just don’t care about the nuances of the sneaker culture but LOVE design, technology and art. In reflection, we’ve been able to expose these students to the ability to act on this preference in such an energetic environment like the sports and footwear industry.
“The earlier we can connect with our youth, the sooner we’ll have them engaged and hopefully empowered.”
For example, we recently held a class with a high school in Boston, MA using Reebok’s Sneaker customization platform ’YourReebok’. Students used the application to create their own ‘Ventilator’ in celebration of the sneaker’s 25th anniversary. They were also given the opportunity to visit the Reebok headquarters where they presented their designs to the Reebok Classic team. After the presentation, a winner was chosen. His shoe design is now available for purchase on Reebok.com. What great recognition!
Assume responsibility, too! You won’t regret it.
I can only encourage you to find ways to pass your passion on and to assume responsibility for your environment and society.
- As trivial as your passion might seem at first glance, nothing makes more sense than to leverage your passion into a career and use it to make a difference in society! Get creative in finding opportunities that fit your own preferences, strengths and possibilities.
- Give it some time and don’t be impatient. I, for example, didn’t get inspired to use my passion until my sophomore year as an undergraduate when I was exposed to researching footwear as an extension of biomechanics and physics.
- Question the half-baked preconceptions you’re confronted with all the time… like the one that marketing and the honest attempt of doing good can’t go hand in hand. Don’t take anything for granted, but rather see it as an opportunity to create something for yourself.– do it for yourself just as much as for others. It’s truly rewarding.