Nemours Children’s Health Healthy Kids, Healthy Future Technical Assistance Program Convening 2023

NLI attended a virtual convening hosted from June 6-7 by the Nemours Children’s Health National Office of Policy and Prevention. This event brought together more than 100 health and early childhood professionals from across 36 states where they listened to presentations including those by NLI’s Nilda Cosco and Robin Moore and a panel with colleagues from South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Nilda’s presentation, Healthy Eating and Physical Activity by Gardening, based on the COLEAFS project, argued for research on gardening with young children because daily requirements for fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption and physical activity (PA) are often not met. On the other hand, gardening early in life may affect FV consumption and PA more strongly; gardening in childcare centers is under-studied; and positive results may impact practice and policy.

Robin’s presentation, Motivating Early Childhood Time Outdoors, demonstrated how physically diverse childcare outdoor play and learning spaces, including garden settings, “pull” children to Increase time outdoors each day, which supports healthy diets, promotes social-emotional development and mental health, increases inclusion and equity of opportunity, regenerates local biodiversity, and encourages caring for nature and each other. Robin described the design principles of affordance, activity setting, spatial range, and incremental development; and how diverse, naturalized spaces can be measured, using COLEQT.

State policy recommendations:

  • Adopt promotional gardening language adaptable to varied US geographic regions
  • Require space for gardening based on licensed enrollment
  • Start modestly
  • Conduct teacher training on gardening with young children
  • Promote gardening as standard practice
  • Consider childcare centers as “micro-farms”
  • Partner with Local Cooperative Extension Agencies


More Information:

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity by Gardening

Motivating Early Childhood Time Outdoors

Nemours is currently funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under a five-year Cooperative Agreement (6NU38OT000304-03-01) to support statewide early care and education (ECE) organizations to integrate best practices and standards for healthy eating, physical activity, breastfeeding support, and reducing screen time in ECE systems and settings.

The views expressed in written materials or publications, or by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.