Nike ran so that us mere mortals could walk.
It’s forward-thinking, it’s boundary-pushing, yet it’s also a brand that’s synonymous with nostalgia. We all remember the hype of showing off a fresh pair of Air Force 1’s to your mates, or that one baby photo where you’re all dressed up in a matching Nike tracksuit like an original ’90s trendsetter.
Cut to 2022, and the sportswear giant is celebrating its 50th anniversary – that’s half a century of pure innovation.
Extending their impact within communities across key cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, the apparel activists are driving projects to create change as part of their ongoing, three-pillar initiative: People, Planet, Play.
Whether it’s working to enrich groups like Theatre Peckham or 100 Black Men of London through diversity and inclusion, playing its part to help restore the planet with sustainable solutions like upcycling via Nike Refurbished or creating the COVID-19 Community Youth Sport Fund to help kids impacted by the pandemic, Nike’s mission to shape a more equal and active future is integral to their purpose, guiding them now more than ever.
From London to Berlin and the Netherlands, too, here’s a look at three groundbreaking projects that Nike led in 2021, an enterprise offering not only vital funding and sustainable solutions but inspiration for future generations.
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Nike’s commitment to the Black community – which aims to advance equality and opportunities for Black people – has just touched down in London. See how Lewisham-based youth education organisation Elimu International is continuing to empower the city’s youth.
Lynette Nabbosa: founder at Elimu
First and foremost, our ongoing mission is to champion Black futures. Back in 2017, I started developing Elimu’s learning model with an aim to provide a platform where members could connect, learn, and thrive in their careers and finances.
Our launchpad pilot was essentially an entrepreneurship initiative that would help develop participants’ business ideas. In 2021, and with the help of Nike’s investment, we hosted a pitching competition where young hopefuls got the chance to improve their business planning, pitching, personal branding, and digital marketing expertise.
With the help of Nike’s funding, we’ve been able to reach more Black youth while preserving the wellbeing of our team, and have launched an online platform where members can connect with each other directly. We’ve successfully amplified our visibility, leading to offers of mentoring and work placements for our youth, andwe are so proud that we have also been able to recruit the support of other young Black entrepreneurs in our community.
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New Life. Less waste. With a goal to work towards a circular future, Nike Refurbished is a sustainable initiative piloted in the Netherlands that takes pre-loved kicks, refurbishes them by hand, and resells them – just like new.
Noel Kinder: Nike Chief Sustainability Officer
At Nike we are obsessed with making products that help athletes get better and we want to make the planet better for athletes – that’s why sustainability is a key priority for us. My role as Chief Sustainability Officer is to create that vision and embed sustainability across the entire enterprise.
One of the many aspects to consider is how to extend the life-cycle of our products. For the past 30 years, we have been busy innovating with the likes of Nike Grind, and recently with Nike Refurbished – which is currently being piloted across select stores in the Netherlands. It’s a circular business model which allows consumers to access gently worn, expertly cleaned and refurbished footwear directly from Nike. The team at our European Logistics Campus is already inspecting and cleaning around 600 pairs of shoes a day.
We all have a role to play in combating climate change, and the faster we can collectively do more for the environment, the better it will be for generations to come.
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On your mark, get set, play! In partnership with Berlin’s buntkicktgut and The International Rescue Committee, Nike’s Berlin Kickt programme offers weekly football sessions to kids of all abilities and backgrounds, helping all kids access the power of play.
Julia Winkler: social educator at buntkicktgut berlin
I’ve been with buntkicktgut since 2017, and the Berlin Kickt project is now in its fifth year.
As part of the initiative, we provide weekly soccer training to six-to-12-year-old school students and focus on the joy of movement and achieving common goals. The instructors are young adults from the neighbourhood, often with a migration background themselves and from a similar peer group.
We’re finding that children are less and less visible in public spaces in the pursuit of athletic activities, even though the need for movement and development is a primary one. The desire for movement is not only anchored in the motor development process but also helps with perceptual skills and facilitates learning.
Playing sports together in a safe environment offers the opportunity to form bonds and thanks to Nike’s investment, at least 150 children a week get the chance to take part in a sports and exercise program that integrates refugees, health promotion, the empowerment of girls, and mobility enhancement. After all, the kids from today are the coaches of tomorrow.