Nature Play: An Early Childhood Health Equity Strategy

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Nature Play: An Early Childhood Health Equity Strategy

March 9, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


A webinar with Liz Houston with National Wildlife Federation
About this event:
Before the pandemic, young children already faced high rates of obesity, more time indoors and on screens, limited physical activity, compromised emotional health, and a detachment from the natural world. Social inequities and institutional racism intensify these issues for Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other children of color, and children in low-income families.

Now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to create healthy, safe places for all young children to spend time daily. Child care centers and family child care homes that have high-quality outdoor spaces can be a daily source of this health and safety, especially for children and families with limited access to nature. For children who lack access to the developmental benefits of nearby nature in their home environments, due to redlining and other discriminatory practices and their impact on the built environment, bringing nature into the quality equation of licensed child care is a way to offset this disparity. For many young children, time outside in the licensed child care setting may be their first and only consistent outdoor experience.

In this session, the Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) team will explore how we facilitate the creation of nature-based outdoor play settings; influence policy; and empower caregivers, educators, and families to engage young children outdoors. This strategy is not only healthy, it can be within reach for every child and serve as a bold shift in the way our kids spend time daily in the ‘next normal.’

Our goal is to foster systemic change that engages and inspires more people to transform and activate the places where young children play and learn daily. We will demonstrate that these everyday experiences can be affordable and scalable. We will engage participants to examine strategies to remove barriers to creating these high-quality and health-promoting early childhood spaces.