Trenton, NJ – First Lady Mary Pat Christie announced today that Amanda’s Easel Creative Arts Therapy Program will design this year’s official 2011 National Christmas Tree - State Tree Ornament for New Jersey’s State Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. Amanda’s Easel is a program of the Monmouth County non-profit 180 Turning Lives Around, Inc. which is dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault. It is named for Manalapan resident Amanda Wengert, who was killed by a neighbor in 1994 at the age of six. 

“All children deserve to live in a safe, secure environment that is free from violence and abuse,” said Mrs. Christie. “For those who have experienced the perils of child abuse or other forms of domestic violence, Amanda’s Easel provides participants a means to creatively express their feelings in a nurturing, healing atmosphere. I am inspired by the creative arts therapies being used to help these children and even prouder to have Amanda’s Easel create New Jersey’s official Christmas ornament to be displayed in our nation’s capital this December.”

Formed in 1997, Amanda's Easel Creative Arts Therapy is a comprehensive art therapy program for children ages 6-13, and their non-offending parent, who have been affected by domestic violence. Participants are placed in small age-appropriate groups and encouraged to express themselves through the use of art media, play, dance and group discussions.

“We are delighted and honored to have been chosen to create the New Jersey ornament for the National Christmas Tree, and the children and families are so excited to have this opportunity to showcase their creativity, healing and joy during the holiday season”, said Anna Diaz-White, Executive Director of the program.”   

Studies show that between 3.3 and 10 million children witness domestic violence annually. Children exposed to domestic violence often exhibit higher rates of emotional, psychological, and physical concerns and evidence-based programs such as Amanda’s Easel have been shown to help children heal from these effects.

For information about Amanda’s Easel, visit

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For more information, visit