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Donna Karan Launches Urban Zen’s First Initiative, THE WELL-BEING FORUM

April 27, 2007

NEW YORK, April 26 /PRNewswire/ —

"Imagine if Eastern Philosophy harmonized with Western medical practice     and if we treated the patient with the same passion with which we treat     the disease ... When my husband Stephan, and best friend Lynn Kohlman     were stricken with cancer, so much was missing from their care. They     needed the powerful science from Western medicine, but they also needed     the healing that can only be accessed from the heart, spirit and     alternative approaches. Out of my frustration with the care they     received at even the best medical facilities, a commitment was born. My     mission is to create a working environment where the worlds of     conventional and alternative medical practices unite to create new ways     of healing, health and well being, focused on the total human and     medical needs of the patient."  Donna Karan   

Determined to support a new approach to care and treatment for patients, Donna Karan will host a ten day Well-Being Forum at the Stephan Weiss Studio, 711 Greenwich Street, NYC, from May 14th to 24th.

The forum will unite the world’s foremost leaders in Integrative and conventional Medicine, the most respected yoga instructors, as well as healthcare leaders, nurses, patients, and spiritual teachers. They will conduct hands-on workshops that will push the boundaries of how we think about Integrative Medicine and patient care.

Called “The Path” (Patient Awareness Toward Healing), the innovative programs created by this initiative, will be implemented in medical facilities, such as New York Beth Israel Hospital, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Integrative approach to patient care. Donna Karan and corporate partners are underwriting the costs of the Forum. 100% of all contributions will support pilot programs that arise out of the Forum’s Workshops with established entities including:

   -- THE CONTINUUM CENTER FOR HEALTH AND HEALING, BETH ISRAEL MEDICAL CENTER   -- THE BRAVEWELL COLLABORATIVE   -- MEMORIAL SLOAN- KETTERING CANCER CENTER   -- FRIENDS IN DEED   

In addition, 50% of the tickets will be made available on a complimentary basis to qualified healthcare professionals who could otherwise not attend.

ABOUT THE WELL BEING FORUM

Forum panels will include the world’s leading Integrative medicine practitioners, conventional physicians, nurses, and patients. Leading physicians such as Dr. Woodson Merrell, Dr. Larry Norton, Dr. Frank Lipman, and Yoga master teachers Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee have been instrumental in the creation of the Well Being Forum. Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Barrie Cassileth, and Dr. Susan Bressman have also contributed significantly. Panels will offer substantial information as well as the opportunity for attendees to participate in problem solving, offer solutions, and make personal commitments to action in support of the pilot programs.

In addition to panels, each day will offer training programs for yoga teachers who will be trained to work in both a hospital and home environment with patients. Other traditional disciplines such as Tai Chi, Qui Gong, and Zen meditations will be demonstrated in a healing context and experienced by Forum attendees as well.

Nutritional, “Live Food” lunches will be served each day, as a way of highlighting the nutritional needs of patient care.

Donna Karan has created an Urban Zen retail experience that reflects the themes of this conference. Specially designed clothing, art objects and educational materials related to health and healing will be offered. All profits will go to the Urban Zen Initiative.

To support the creation of these pilot programs, world-renowned photographers such as Annie Liebowitz, Michael O’Neill, Roberto Dutesco, Steve McCurry, Luca Babini, and Dennis Hopper have generously donated their prints to be auctioned with all proceeds going to the Urban Zen Initiative. This art will be displayed in the studio throughout the entire conference.

Says Donna Karan, “The beauty of launching this event at my husband’s studio is that it symbolizes what he stood for– the world of science, art and intellect coming together to confront the challenges one faces in life. We hope to open our hearts and minds to the issues at hand, and raise consciousness to proactively create a new matrix in dealing with the needs of the patients on their journey to health and healing.”

Donna Karan and Sonja Nuttall chair the event, while co-chairs include Dr. Frank Lipman, Dr. Woodson Merrell, Christy Turlington, Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee. Vice-chairs include Graydon Carter, Michael J. Fox, Evelyn Lauder, Anna Wintour, Christina Ong, Katie Couric, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Ingrid Sischy, Sandy Brant, Diane Von Furstenberg, Kenneth Cole, and many others.

The Well Being Forum is the first of three major initiatives planned by Ms. Karan. Upcoming forums will include Ms. Karan’s other two passions: the preservation of indigenous cultures, and the empowerment of children through spirituality.

   For further information, please visit http://www.urbanzen.org/    QUOTES:   Dr. Woodson Merrell:  

Dr. Woodson Merrell is the M. Anthony Fisher Director of Integrative Medicine, New York Beth Israel Medical Center.

“What we hope to achieve is to help make some fundamental changes in the way health care is delivered; to make it more integrated than it is now. Donna, to her credit, has taken this on as a mission of hers. Based on some of her experiences in the past, she wants to help support changes in clinical care at the medical centers. It’s wonderful that she has decided to focus a significant portion of her foundation work in helping healthcare institutions make a change. Not only by providing information to key thought leaders, clinicians and nurses, but to help bring donors to fund it.”

Dr. Larry Norton:

Dr. Larry Norton is Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Breast Cancer Programs, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“The two historic threads that joined to create what we now term Western Medicine are the Greek school, which focused on the flow of body fluids and abstract reasoning, and the Arabic-Persian school, which emphasized anatomy and scientific observations. It is now clear that we have much to learn from other approaches to healing, and much to gain by studying and integrating principles and techniques derived from other cultures into our powerful existing corpus of medical knowledge. Donna Karan’s new initiative will expand and encourage this dialogue in an environment of openness, creativity and mutual respect, all for the benefit of our patients and ourselves.”

Christy Turlington, Urban Zen Initiative Co-Chair:

“Donna and I had this discussion about what it was like to have an experience of a loved one who was ill, and how hard it is on the people around them, let alone the patients. Donna has been a huge example to me. She is now in a place where she can dedicate time, money and her interest solely to make the world a better place. It’s quite inspiring to be a part of it.”

Dr. Barrie Cassileth: Dr. Barrie Cassileth is Chief of Integrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“Advances in the treatment of cancer and other chronic illnesses greatly increased the numbers of patients successfully treated for their disease. But improvements in therapy come with a price. Over 64% of cancer patients are well five years after treatment, leaving many who are not, and treatments themselves can create enduring physical and emotional problems for patients and families. Complementary therapies that relieve these burdens and help people maintain good health represent an increasingly important component of health care. These gentle, non-invasive therapies reduce symptoms, enhance quality of life and bring needed new meaning to medical care and healing. This synthesis, this collaboration of mainstream biomedicine and integrative therapies, is termed “Integrative Medicine.” The realization of Donna Karan’s vision will expand this emerging and essential approach to health care.”

Dr. Frank Lipman:

Dr. Frank Lipman is the Founder and Director of the Eleven Wellness Center.

“The future of medicine is combining the knowledge we have gained from science with the wisdom that has been passed down by many traditions. This program integrates the two beautifully. Donna needs to be commended for helping to bring awareness to an important issue for all of us, improving our health care delivery.”

   Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee   Rodney and Colleen are master Yoga Teachers  

“The natural progression of yoga moves towards service, yoga can make a significant contribution to the health care system. Colleen and myself believe that we can lead a segment of the yoga community to become integrated therapists in the hospital setting.”

Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Well-Being Forum

CONTACT: Lauren Auslander, or Shawn Purdy, or Christina Stejskal, orBarry Parasram, all of PMK-HBH New York, +1-212-582-1111, or Andy Gelb ofPMK-HBH Los Angeles, +1-310-289-6200

Web site: http://www.urbanzen.org/




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