The BWIC Center was designed by local architect Bill Vitale and his team with a spacious second-floor open roof garden space, to provide access to nature and gardening in a private and secure setting for residents in the Safe House program.
Through a grant from the Mary Kay Foundation, and a Collaborative Project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, this space was transformed into the first certified Nature Explore Classroom located within a Pennsylvania domestic violence shelter.
The design of the space incorporates all methods of learning for children of all age groups. It has areas designed to foster parent-child interaction and bonding, as well as provide space for small gatherings. Included in the Classroom are areas that develop gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and areas for gardening, music, and movement and art in nature.
The Nature Explore Classroom provides BWIC with evidence-based or informed tools and resources to diminish aggression and anxiety, and foster resilience and healing in children and adults impacted by trauma.
“Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked to the sense of wonder. This way of knowing, if recognized and honored, can serve as a life-long source of joy and enrichment, as well as an impetus or motivation for further learning.” Ruth A. Wilson, “The Wonders of Nature: Honoring Children’s Way of Knowing”