Top sports brand Nike's move to sign up athlete with cerebral palsy hailed
Top sports brand Nike is known the world over for its distinctive logo as well as cutting edge products. Getting signed up as a Nike model spells bog bucks and is a matter of honour. Which makes it's decision to sign a professional contract with Justin Gallegos, an American student with cerebral palsy (CP), a major step.
With this, Gallegos becomes the first athlete in the world with CP to be sponsored by a top brand. A high school student, Gallegos was nine years old when he made up his mind to become an athlete.
He initially walked with the aid of a walker and underwent physical therapy to improve his gait.
For Mumbai-based professional Jasmina Khanna, who has cerebral palsy, this is a huge step towards inclusion and she hopes that Nike's move will become an example for other brands.
It is amazing for such a big brand to sponsor a disabled athlete and a very good example for others. If it happens in India, initiatives like this can go a long way in encouraging disabled people to take up sports. Parents would also be motivated to help groom their disabled kids in sports.- Jasmina Khanna, Software tester
Gallegos will also be working closely with Nike to develop a special shoe for runners with disabilities. Called FlyEase, the shoe comes with a zippered heel that is easy to put on and take off. The shows have a lacing system that fits comfortably on the feet and will be made available for men, women and kids.
Riitesh Sinha, an innovator with CP, believes that gestures like these will help address some of the biases people with disabilities face in India.
"I believe CP stands for Capable Person and a person with CP is capable of doing what so-called able-bodied people can. I think the biggest struggle that disabled people face in India is social discrimination."
India too is taking baby steps in this regard. Just last week, ITC announced that its top antiseptic product, Savlon will be available in Braille packaging. Hopefully steps like these will show the way to other brands.