Mary Kay and Safe Horizon Open New Nature Explore Classroom for Young Victims of Domestic Violence

Posted on: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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Gardens, Activity Areas and Natural Environment, Funded by Mary Kay, to Increase Well-Being and Coping Skills for Children Impacted by Violence

A new Nature Explore Classroom – an outdoor area with gardens, plants and educational activity areas for children – opened today at Rose House, the largest domestic violence shelter in New York City.  The building, located in Manhattan, is a New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) owned and funded facility that has been operated by Safe Horizon since April 2011, to provide a safe environment and support services for women and children who have had to escape from violence in their homes.

Nature Explore Classrooms, developed in partnership by the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Education Research Foundation, and funded by Mary Kay, have been shown to be highly beneficial for children traumatized by violence. The Rose House Nature Explore Classroom is among the first in New York City built for a domestic violence shelter, transforming a concrete space into an interactive and therapeutic playground that is unique to this urban residential setting.

“Safe Horizon is committed to empowering families that have been victimized by domestic violence, and providing them with the tools they need to rebuild their sense of safety and confidence,” said Ariel Zwang, CEO, Safe Horizon. “Giving the children at Rose House a peaceful, comforting outdoor space where they can connect with nature will be a highly valuable part of this process. We are grateful to Mary Kay, the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation for helping us to make this space possible for the families at Rose House.”

The Nature Explore Classroom at Rose House consists of areas for gardening, dirt digging, nature art, quiet gathering, music and movement, and building. Staff, residents and other stakeholders gathered at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate and show their appreciation for this new outdoor space.

"I congratulate Safe Horizon and Mary Kay for partnering to provide the residents of Rose House with a play area that is truly unique in New York City and is sure to be enjoyed by many children now and in the future," said Robert Doar, HRA Commissioner. "Today is not only about the transformation of this urban space into a child-friendly play area filled with bright colors, plants, and activities that let kids be kids. Rose House's Nature Explore Classroom demonstrates the great care that Safe Horizon takes to provide its clients with a safe and supportive environment, where they can get the help they need to live their lives free from violence."

HRA’s Office of Domestic Violence provides victims of abuse and their children with emergency shelter, temporary housing and a network of support services. The agency also provides administrative and fiscal oversight of Domestic Violence facilities and programs such as Rose House.

The Nature Explore Classroom is the newest addition to Rose House’s array of unique and innovative services designed to support domestic violence survivors in their efforts to become self-sufficient and independent. The facility is staffed with two on-site Housing Specialists and a Vocational Specialist, providing assessments, workshops and support to clients within the shelter’s safe boundaries. Recognizing that the trauma of domestic violence impacts the entire family, supportive services are provided to promote the immediate safety and long-term well-being of the victim and her children. Safe Horizon’s social workers and case managers utilize client-centered practice to support residents through regular case management services, counseling sessions and domestic violence support groups, as well as child care and parenting support.

Crayton Webb, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Communications at Mary Kay, said, “Safe Horizon is the perfect partner for a Nature Explore Classroom. With a limited amount of green space in New York City, this Nature Explore Classroom provides a safe, fun and educational place for children who have witnessed or experience abuse to learn, play and heal.”

Since 2009, Nature Explore Education, a collaborative project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, has had the opportunity to design outdoor classrooms in urban domestic violence shelters, with funding provided by Mary Kay. Educational Specialists from Nature Explore worked with staff at Safe Horizon’s Rose House in New York City during their process of creating a Nature Explore Classroom meant to calm and rejuvenate children, parents and care-providers.

Christine Kiewra, Education Specialist for Nature Explore Education said, “Nature Explore Classrooms are thoughtfully designed nature-filled spaces that provide many advantages for children and families. Spending time in nature buffers life’s stress and restores a sense of peace. This can be especially true for families who have experienced crime or abuse. Mary Kay and Nature Explore believe that the families served at Safe Horizon deserve special, beautiful places for healing, recovery and growth. We are pleased to support the Rose House staff during this process through the creation of a space that enables them to do their work most effectively and engage in a life-changing process for all.”

For more information about Safe Horizon, please visit

About Safe Horizon
Safe Horizon is the largest victims’ services agency in the United States, with more than 50 locations touching the lives of 250,000 children, adults, and families affected by crime and abuse throughout New York City each year. Since 1978, Safe Horizon has provided victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, rape and sexual assault, as well as homeless youth and families of homicide victims, with a wide range of comprehensive support. Our programs also partner with governmental and other community agencies so we can offer additional assistance, including finding resources for those living outside New York City.

About Mary Kay
Mary Kay is one of the world’s largest direct selling companies with more than $3 billion in annual wholesale sales worldwide.  Mary Kay was founded in 1963 by Mary Kay Ash with the goal of helping women achieve personal growth and financial success.  Mary Kay remains committed to enriching women’s lives, and today more than 2.4 million people of all backgrounds are enjoying the advantages of being Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants.  Mary Kay’s high-quality skin care and color cosmetics products are sold in more than 35 countries around the world. To learn more about Mary Kay, visit

About  HRA
New York City’s Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services provides temporary assistance and work supports to individuals and families with social service and economic needs to assist them in reaching self-sufficiency. HRA serves more than 3 million New Yorkers through programs that include: temporary cash assistance, public health insurance, food stamps, home care for seniors and the disabled, adult protective services, domestic violence and emergency assistance, HIV/AIDS support services and child support enforcement.

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