This NYC program is already preparing the next generation of designers

Kemberly Richardson Image
Thursday, May 4, 2023
NYC program helps students pursue their passion for sneaker design
KickNKnowledge, a nonprofit program that teaches sneaker and fashion design to students in underserved communities, is inspiring students all across New York City. Kemberly Richardson has the story.

EAST HARLEM, New York (WABC) -- A program in New York City is helping hundreds of students kick their passion for fashion design into high gear.

The classes are open to all young people but focus on kids in underrepresented communities - by hosting workshops with major companies.

At Innovation Charter High School, inspiration is all around. Just ask fellow student Ashley Ortega, 15, who was featured in a Nike campaign, wearing sneakers she actually designed herself and hopes to inspire other girls to get in on what is a billion-dollar industry.

"To be the person who's like, 'Hey, a woman designed that' would be amazing," said Ortega.

That sense of confidence is encouraged and applauded at KickNKnowledge, a program that teaches sneaker and fashion design to students in underserved communities.

George Duvel, founder of the nonprofit program, says the entire concept is a win, win - giving back to the community through something he's passionate about.

He started the nonprofit in 2019, after taking courses at Fashion Institute of Technology and then teaching.

"If a brand could see this, a Nike or Adidas or any of these big brands, they could see the future, see what the consumer base is looking for in products," said Duvel.

Organizers of the program teach the kids a range of techniques, with an emphasis on using their own unique, personal stories as jumping off points.

Among those students taking heed to those lessons is 17-year-old Jordan Habershan.

"I want to inspire the world," said Habershan. "I want stuff to be named after me."

Designing is just one part of this program. The more broader end goal is exposing students to different parts of the this industry, from marketing to production and even the retail side.

About 500 students across the city now take part in the program, there's also an after school program and virtual, global component. All in all, it's work that truly touches Duvel's soul.

"We've done a lot, but looking forward to do more and to impact more," he said.

Those interested in learning more about KickNKnowledge can head here.

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