CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s been a tough year for kids, but a Hazel Crest teacher found a way to reward his students with new sneakers.

These shoes weren’t designed by Adidas or Reebok, they came straight from the students’ imaginations.

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CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas was there when their hard work paid off.

What wound up on their new shoes started on the minds of the students in Mr. Ben Salus’s art class.

“You can have your great ideas come to fruition right now,” Salus said.

His students are about to get their first look at the coolest new kicks in town—shoes they designed themselves.

“You had a creative idea and you made something of it,” Salus said.

Anthony Amos spent weeks bringing those ideas to life. He’s a professional artist who hand-paints custom designs on sneakers; a craft he started as a kid, when his family couldn’t afford the cool new shoes.

“This project was really close to home, mainly because it is exactly why I got into customizing shoes,” Amos said.

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Amos unveiled the finished product at the Jesse White Learning Academy.

“I’m happy,” student Eric Rockett said after seeing his new shoes. “My favorite thing is the dinosaur part.”

“These shoes are something special, and I’ll keep them by my side for a very long time,” DaAngelo Jones said.

“I thought the yellows and the pinks look good together,” Danielle Moore said. “I’m excited to wear these, see which outfit could go best with these.”

“Man, I’m keeping back from crying,” Salus said. “I feel like they had a bigger sense of what they accomplished this year, just holding something like this.”

“Pure elation to see a child just go, ‘Wow I made this,’” Amos said.

Salus has come up with a name for the project: From Concepts to Kicks.

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He’s already raising funds for next year when the challenge will expand district wide.

Tim McNicholas