A young member of a Brooklyn NYPD youth program was honored Monday night by police and Reebok after winning a sneaker designing contest.
Fifteen-year-old Johlana Tatum was all smiles on Dec. 12 inside the NYPD Community Center at 127 Pennsylvania Ave.. Surrounded by friends and family, Tatum, who goes by the nickname Jojo, was presented with limited edition sneakers she herself designed months earlier.
Tatum and her siblings take part in NYPD Youth Strategies Division engagements and after-school programs including basketball and special events such as the sneaker designing contest that took place in the summer in partnership with Reebok and MARTK’D.
Youth were challenged to design their very own sneakers, encouraging them to use both their artistic eye and business sense.
“What we’re trying to do is make them think differently. It’s always buy, buy, buy. But what if you design your own thing? How would you market something you created?” Sergeant Johny James Hines III told amNewYork Metro. “We want to be the ones that make kids think outside the box when it comes to their everyday lives, how they purchase stuff, how they take in content.”
A joint collaboration between the NYPD, Reebok, and MARTK’D — an organization that looks to provide artists with an opportunity to showcase their talent through sneaker design — youngsters set-off about creating their own shoes in June, with Jojo coming out on top, being awarded with the best design.
“Today we are presenting Jojo, with her sneakers that Reebok brought to life for her and her friends,” founder of MARTK’D Dion Walcott explained. “A lot of people of color are the consumers, right? So now they can think to themselves: Okay, not only can I buy this sneaker, but maybe I might have a career in sneakers that I didn’t know existed before.”
After six long months, Jojo was finally awarded 50 pairs of her shoes for herself, friends, and family as cops, and Reebok reps gave her a warm round of applause.
“So, my favorite colors are purple and blue. So, I did purple and blue. I just felt like I don’t see anybody do shoelaces and stuff like that. And I just wanted it to be cool and be me,” Jojo said, finally holding the sneaker in her hands. “I’m actually nervous. Nervous, but I love it.”