9th Annual Natural Learning Design Institute

Design for Early Childhood: Health, Play, and Learning

This year’s Institute is focused on early childhood. The goal is to raise awareness about the role of the outdoors for early childhood healthy development and to offer innovative ideas and concepts for participants to implement.


The 9th Annual Design Institute combined presentations by leading professionals in the fields of early childhood and design, and outdoor hands-on activities. The program offered innovative ideas and concepts for participants to implement in their own child care settings.

Outdoor, hands-on activities were organized on the grounds of the NC Botanical Garden on Thursday and Friday afternoons. Participants learned innovative ways to entice preschool physical activity, to see examples of how the designed environment engages children in outdoor play, and to see the many ways outdoor activity supports healthy development.


Rebecca Brouwer, MS, Project Director, Dept. of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center. Watch Me Grow

Nilda Cosco, PhD, Education Specialist, The Natural Learning Initiative.

Diane H. Craft, PhD, Professor of Physical Education, State University of New York. Purposeful Play – Early Childhood Movement Activities on a Budget

David Gardner, D.A., Executive Director, N.C. Center for Health & Wellness.

Teri Hendy, President, Site Masters, Inc (design and safety consultants).

Elizabeth Lake, Executive Director, First Environments Early Learning Center.

Dona McNeill, MPA, Employee Services Manager, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Robin Moore, Dipl.Arch, MCP, Director, Natural Learning Initiative. Welcome

Richard Rairigh, Director of Programs and Early Childhood Development, BeActive North Carolina, Inc.

Debbie Roos, NC Agricultural Extension Agent, Chatham County Cooperative Extension Center.

Philip Waters, Play Program Coordinator, the Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. Muddy Shorts – Supporting Disabled Children in Adventurous Play

Comments and Discussion on Morning Presentations
from College of Design @ NCSU.

Preventing Obesity by Design (POD) Project Showcase.
Smart Start of Buncombe County
Children and Youth Partnership for Dare County
Randolph County Partnership for Children



October 6-7, 2011