Muskoka Chairs Offer Lessons in Life
Can you believe the kids at our Children’s Mental Health Centre made these amazing Muskoka chairs entirely from scratch?
Two boys who helped with the project are shy but bursting with pride as they present two beautifully made Muskoka chairs sitting on tables in the shop. Hypnotic strokes of varnish are painted carefully onto to the underside of the chairs by two kids from Lutherwood’s Parklands Open Custody program. Four other youth from Lutherwood’s live-in and day programs were also involved in the project.
On top of reinforcing basic life skills, the shop program helps kids learn skills that might help them make career choices for their future.
Ramzi Abdi, the Shop Class teacher commented on how the youth learned teamwork, patience and problem-solving. He talked with them about engineering elements for the chairs and they applied math and science as they calculated the angles of their design. “I wanted to push them to do more than they thought they could,” he explained. “And give them real ownership of the project.” They creatively designed elements of the chair, creating the full plans before cutting the first piece of wood. They made decisions about measurements for the seat width and depth and the appearance of the seat backs and armrests. The youth learned about the steps involved in making each piece and the tools they would need for the project. They successfully problem-solved obstacles they encountered as they assembled the chairs.
“I learned to build a chair, use tools, measure things to get it all right, and assemble it,” stated one of the youth. “Even though I don’t have power tools at home, I’ve learned the fundamentals and now I could do it at home with very basic tools. If you learn to do it the long way first, when you have the power tools it will make it much easier!”
“When cutting wood, I learned to not measure the length twice, but to measure 3-4 times to make sure you got it right,” added the other youth. For several weeks, this youth has been spending his spare time in the shop working on his team’s chair because he loves working with wood. He has applied to Conestoga College’s Construction Techniques Program that focuses on carpentry, masonry, HVAC and welding.
“I’m just really happy with just how proud the kids were with what they accomplished,” Ramzi concluded.
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"I taught students with special needs for a third of my career. Back then we didn't have the resources to support them. I wanted to change that. Giving back to my community through Lutherwood has been fulfilling and it has given me purpose."