Grow Outdoors South Carolina Launch

Grow Outdoors SC, launched at the MEGA Child Development Center, Gilbert, SC (12-11-23), is a unique partnership of two SC state agencies (Social Services – DSS, and Health & Environmental Control – DHEC), three universities (NC State’s Natural Learning Initiative (NLI), UNC-Greensboro, and Texas Tech), and ECHO (Early Childhood Health Outdoors), based at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) – a national conservation organization.

The launch celebrated prior achievements of the almost ten years of NLI engagement in SC, applying the POD (Preventing Obesity by Design) Strategy, beginning with state leadership professional development. In 2015, creation of demonstration sites began, showing how nature-based design attracts youngsters outdoors, increases their physical activity, motivates enjoyment of hands-on gardening and eating fresh produce, improves social-emotional development by stimulating joyful playing together, and supports STEAM learning outdoors.

SC launch platform party from right to left:

Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC, Agency Director
Michelle Bowers, DSS, Director, Division of Early Care & Education
Michael Leach, DSS, Agency Director
Robin Moore, NLI, Professor, NC State University, College of Design

“Nature-inspired play areas aim to increase curiosity, physical activity among SC children”

abc25 Newscast:

Download the Grow Outdoors SC One-Pager:

See DHEC Coin Awarded to NLI:

Children cut the ribbon to launch expansion of Grow Outdoors SC at the entrance to the MEGA outdoor play and learning environment.

MEGA Outdoor Play and Learning Environment Schematic Design (2017)

Original MEGA Child Development Center Site

Promoting healthy lifestyle habits exemplified at MEGA Child Development Center

Environments that promote healthy lifestyle habits, like MEGA, evolve from the intersection of specialized landscape design, transdisciplinary professional development, incremental development linked to rigorous evaluation, and creation of regional demonstration/training sites.