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Nature’s Influence on Traumatized Children


Domestic violence is all too real and creates devastating last effects not only on the victim, but also on the victim’s children. At SafeNet, we help children find positive ways to work out their sadness and anger and gain self-confidence through talking and doing. We also recognize that interaction with nature is a healing activity. Open, unstructured play has been shown to encourage creativity, reduce anxiety and even significantly reduce learning problems. That is why SafeNet opened the Big Backyard Children’s Garden. Six city adjoining lots are secure and filled with trees, water, flowers and plants allowing children to connect with the textures, smells and beauty of nature.

The east side of the garden is park-like with a gazebo, a smooth path for walking and wheels and a stage for performances, both planned and impromptu. Moving to the west, over a bridge spanning a small bubbling stream, the path turns to gravel and morphs to a wilder landscape of shade, shadows and fallen logs.

The garden areas are designed to allow children to:

  • Climb and crawl
  • Dig in an unstructured sandy area
  • Build with natural materials
  • Imagine and retreat

Welcoming Our Neighbors

Many children living in the city don’t get the chance to experience the wonders and benefits that nature provides. SafeNet welcomes our neighborhood children with regularly scheduled picnics and other seasonal celebrations.


Help Support the Mission of the Big Backyard

Want to leave a lasting memory? Looking for a great gift idea for someone special? Have their name engraved on a Brick Paving Stone and placed in  SafeNet’s Big Backyard Children’s Garden. You’ll help create a wonderful place where children can play, learn and heal in ways only nature can bestow. Print the Children’s Garden Flyer and mail it to SafeNet, 1702 French Street, Erie, PA  16501 with your check.  Thank you.


Facts About Nature and Kids

  • Children who spend time outside are refreshed and calmer, not to mention the benefit from vigorous physical activity.
  • Children who play regularly in natural environments show more advanced fine motor skills, including coordination, balance and agility.
  • Nature buffers the impact of life’s stresses on children and helps them deal with adversity.
  • Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other.
  • Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination and wonder. Wonder is an important motivator for life-long learning.



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