Donna Karan-Urban Zen
(HealingTalks) Most celebrities involve themselves in charities, but one would be hard-pressed to find a charity more well rounded than Donna Karan’s Urban Zen. Begun in 2006 by the New York City-based fashion designer, Urban Zen strives to change the world in a natural, holistic, and sustainable way. Karan credits her husband’s illness and eventual passing as her inspiration for the project. “Stephan’s illness opened up a whole new world to me,” says Karan, “a world that I would never have sought or wished for, but one which taught me so much. That experience and all I learned from it awakened me to what is missing from mainstream health care, and it inspired me to build a bridge to the health care of the future.” Along with creating a new health care system, Urban Zen’s initiatives seek to preserve at-risk cultures and empower children to create a better world.
Urban Zen has been instrumental in the reconstruction of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake claimed over 300,000 lives and destroyed a nation. As one of the most celebrated and iconic designers of our time, Karan seeks to create a sustainable economy for Haiti through the arts. Hope Help and Rebuild Haiti brings the work of traditional Haitian artisans to the western world, thereby simultaneously generating commerce and preserving Haitian culture.
The cause likely closest to Karan’s heart is her campaign for well-being. This project takes a multicultural approach to health care by combining Western medicine with Eastern healing techniques, nutrition, yoga therapies, and essential oil therapies–much like HealingTalks! This philosophy, Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT), is presented in a 500 hour course that teaches students to combine varieties of natural health care into a option that treats the patient rather than the disease. It addresses the classic symptoms of illness, labelled under the acronym PANIC: pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and constipation. UZIT also addresses sickness in the mind by offering therapy programs for disaster victims. Those affected by natural disasters can head off the side affects of anxiety and depression by engaging in group meditation, Reiki, and aromatherapy. On November 10th, 2012, such an event took place in aide of those in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Urban Zen is very proactive in the ‘now,’ but also looks to the future by focusing on children. “Our initiative of empowering children,” Karan explains, “includes creating a curriculum of social responsibility, compassion and self-respect both emotionally and physically through education, nutrition and yoga. ” In other words, Urban Zen is teaching children to be whole–mind, body, and spirit. Much like Hope Help and Rebuild Haiti, the Art for Art Haiti Project teaches orphans the value of arts and crafts in terms of sustainability. On American soil, children at the Rudolph Steiner School in New York City exchange their artistic endeavors with the children of the Timkantec Orphanage and Children’s Home in Haiti. The children become artistic pen-pals and the connection between the two cultures is an invaluable lesson to the leaders of tomorrow.
Are you interested in getting involved with Urban Zen yet? If you are, the Urban Zen Center in Manhattan offers forums and discussions for those interested in improving the world. You can find out how to participate by emailing email@example.com or calling 1-212-414-8520. If you plan on making a contribution to charity this holiday season, please consider Urban Zen and all that they do in so many arenas!
” I have spent decades dressing people. Now I want to address them.”
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