NLI Publications

Child-Friendly, Active, Healthy Neighborhoods: Physical Characteristics and Children's Time Outdoors

Relationships between neighborhood built environment characteristics and children’s average time outdoors on weekdays were investigated in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A total of 22 built environment variables, 8 socio-demographic variables, and 1 perceptual variable were tested for their relationship to children’s (N = 109) self-reported average time outdoors on weekdays , measured in minutes. Built environment variables were measured using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based urban form variables and systematic, direct observation. Analysis was conducted using multiple linear regression. Results (p < .01) suggest that additional minutes of children’s average time outdoors on weekdays are associated with availability of adjacent space (23 min), male child (23 min), dead-end instead of through street in front of residence (15 min), perception of neighborhood safety by parents (10 min), one story lower in level of residence floor (3 min), and 1,000 m2  less of total building footprint area within the neighborhood (1 min).

Growing Up Green: Naturalization as a Health Promotion Strategy in Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments

Using a socio-bio-ecological, “one health” conceptual framework, Preventing Obesity by Design (POD) is presented as a system-wide health promotion strategy for North Carolina childcare centers, applying a cost-effective naturalization approach to improve the quality of the outdoor learning environment (OLE). A pre-post, action-research orientation generates sufficient data to guide program development, create an evidence base, and support scientific publication. Results demonstrate an association between OLE quality, increased time outdoors, and improved levels of physical activity, which together with hands-on gardening represent a primary health promotion strategy. Access full article here.

Increasing Physical Activity in Childcare Outdoor Learning Environments: The Effect of Setting Adjacency Relative to Other Built Environment and Social Factors

The problem of childhood obesity can be addressed through study of how built environment characteristics can foster physical activity (PA) among preschool children. A sample of 355 behavior settings in 30 childcare center outdoor learning environments (OLEs) was studied using behavioral mapping techniques. Observers coded activity levels of preschool children across behavior settings. The level of PA observed in 6,083 behavioral displays of children aged 3 to 5 was modeled using multi-level statistical techniques. Both adjacency and centrality of play settings were found to be important factors in increasing the degree of PA, net the effect of numerous other variables.

Childcare Outdoor Renovation as a Built Environment Health Promotion Strategy: Evaluating the Preventing Obesity by Design Intervention

American Journal of Health Promotion ThumbnailPublished in the American Journal of Health Promotion (Vol. 28, No. 3) this article shows that site layout attributes are associated with higher levels of physical activity in the childcare setting, while teacher interaction is associated with a decreased level of physical activity in children. The full article is available here.

Nature Play at Home

Thumbnail of Nature Plat at HomeNature Play At Home: A Guide for Boosting Children's Healthy Development and Creativity

Developed by the National Wildlife Federation and NLI, this guide is a tool for creating enticing outdoor play spaces in backyard, patio, or balcony settings.


In Natural Learning


Exploring Childhood Territories

In Childhood's Domain: Play and Place in Child Development