SCI Superstar: David Constantine


It’s not always easy looking outside yourself. It’s challenge for every human. And when you have a disability, it can be even easier being consumed by your own issues, but none of that stopped David Constantine, MBE (short for “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire don’t ya know).

One of the co-founders of Motivation, he helps run an award-winning charity that creates and donates low-costs wheelchairs to developing countries. And Motivation is no small charity. In 2012 alone, they donated over 26,000 wheelchairs.

Read on to learn more about this fascinating Aussie-Brit quadriplegic who’s dedicated his life to helping others just like him, but are in greater need.

Why he’s fearless

It was 1982 and one of those perfect holiday summer days when David Constantine, who was 21, was on break from his studies from agriculture college. He and some friends were doing some wild camping on Fraser Island in Australia, when David hit his head and broke his neck at C4-5 after diving into the ocean. A tough fate to befall an active 21 year old.

David was shipped off to the UK for rehab, and returned to Australia a changed man. Knowing agriculture was a field that would pose a lot of obstacles as a chair-user, he switched his career aspirations to using a computer in some capacity, which was a new gadget at the time in the mid 1980’s.

He gobbled up the first Mac he could once they became available, loving how the first Macs made everyday computer use a lot easier; removing the need of having to input DOS-like commands to use it (which was required by other computers at the time). He decided to major in industrial design, a field that combined his love of computers with building new things.

And David didn’t stop at making industrial design his career. He went on to become an accomplished photographer as well, and he’s perfected the art of the sitting viewpoint. His photography site, Sitting Images, is critically acclaimed and shows hundreds of his best photos. The reactions of strangers (when they see him) are some of his most memorable photos, showing insight into humanity.

But his biggest success in life by far has been co-founding Motivation in 1991 with Richard Frost. While the two were in college, which is where they me, the two teamed up to design an easy-to-produce and inexpensive wheelchair as part of a contest. They won, and they used the money to travel to India, to a SCI rehab unit, and there they saw just how badly needed wheelchairs were there.

What’s next?

So the two went on to run this life-changing charity for over 20 years, donating wheelchairs in individuals in over 34 countries; and they’re still running till this very day. In 2013, Motivation won the prestigious International Development Achievement Award from the Guardian for their life-changing chair. They’ve also setup wheelchair workshops in many of these countries. Today, the charity continues to deliver 13,000 wheelchairs to people each year.

It’s not very often a man with so much fortitude comes along, and David Constantine is that man. Oblivious to his own limits in life, he’s only focused on his abilities, and trying to make the world a better place. Bringing such a life-changing thing to all of these people, and to their families as well, is an amazingly profound thing.

How have you helped pay it forward after your injury?

Watch the videos!

TEDxGranta — David Constantine — The Chair That Changes Lives

David Constantine interviewed by CNN

Mobility charity founder David Constantine on his motivation to change lives, from the Guardian

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