Renovations begin for free Design for a Difference makeover at Madison nonprofit

After months of planning, designers and volunteers began renovations at Common Threads Family Resource Center School Program.
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 10:22 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After months of planning, designers and volunteers began renovations at Common Threads Family Resource Center School Program. The school program serves students who are autistic or neurodivergent.

“We work with occupational therapists, we have a speech language pathologist, we have mental health therapists, we now have a child life specialist, as well as special education teachers and really well qualified support personnel that come into our classrooms, and they just do the most amazing job with our kids,” Common Threads School Program Director Rebecca Ryan said.

Design for a Difference is a community driven movement, spearheaded by FLOOR360, that chooses one nonprofit in the Madison area to complete an entirely free interior makeover.

This year’s recipient is the Common Threads School Program. Volunteer designers have worked with the staff at the school to understand the very specific needs of the students.

“It’s really a balance for our students,” Common Threads Executive Director Kate Poppe said. “We want things to be exciting and stimulating but also calming because we need our students to stay regulated throughout their day. So, it’s really about the environment, making sure the colors are colors that are going to be calming and not overwhelming to our students. And then also the things that they bring into the space as well.”

The school program sits inside a 5,500-square-foot former warehouse, a large space, filling a large need in the community.

“Common Threads started in 2006 as a play therapy group, for students with for kids with autism,” Poppe said. “Therapy was hard to come by back then and we’ve evolved to what we are today, which is an alternative placement program for school kiddos and an outpatient clinic for psychotherapy and occupational therapy.”

Since 2015, FLOOR360 has helped orchestrate a Design for a Difference project in the Madison area. This year they said they have 25 designers and more than 300 donors, individuals and businesses donating their time, money, skills, or products to help create this makeover at no cost to the nonprofit.

“This is an opportunity to kind of put our best foot forward to have other people help us with some of the support of the space so that we can focus our funding on curriculum and other things that our students and clients need,” Poppe said.

This makeover will take two weeks. The staff and students at Common Threads will not be able to see the space until the final reveal on October 16.