Physical Therapist Upcycles Old Furniture Into New Pieces for Disabled Students

specialneedsfurnitureSome school basements have become dumping grounds for the school’s broken and tired furniture, but one physical therapist has found a workshop — and the raw materials he needs — in the lowest level of a public school in Brooklyn.

Traveling physical therapist Michael Konstalid makes it a habit to visit the basements of the schools that he goes to — and makes sure that the custodial staff calls him before any damaged or worn furniture is thrown away.

CBS reports that Konstalid has been using old discarded school furniture to create custom furniture for special needs kids. Some have balance issues or other physical handicaps that make parts of their school days difficult, like sitting upright in a chair, or walking down the hallway unassisted.

“Almost everything I build in schools are made from scrap wood, broken desks, broken tables, broken chairs, broken magazine racks, broken unidentified thing,” Mr. Konstalid said. “These are some pretty tired pieces of furniture.”

The furniture he builds is re-purposed with specific students in mind, which means that they get a piece custom-fitted to their unique needs. According to the New York Times, Konstalid has customized more than 70 pieces of furniture for students in 35 schools throughout Brooklyn.

The Education Department, which is the entity that Konstalid works for, can acquire furniture for special needs students. Some parents even try to find and buy furniture for their children without going through the Education Department, which can be pretty pricey.

Konstalid’s methods, however, cost nothing and his turnaround is much faster than the process the Education Department has to go through.

Parents and students are both pleased with the work Konstalid has done.

“He built a chair that was the only chair that ever worked for Jacqueline,” the mother of a 10-year-old special needs student at P.S. 321. “Nobody had ever tried to build a chair for her before.”