[ONLINE] - Children Thrive Outside

A New Day for Outdoor Play in Child Care
Josep Suria via Shutterstock

Daily access to high-quality outdoor spaces is a human right that has compounding benefits. The long-term physical, social-emotional, and cognitive benefits of daily interactions with nature are clear, especially for young children. Outdoor play is linked to more physical activity, cooperation, and a lifelong connection to nature. As health officials recommend more time outdoors to slow the spread of COVID-19, outdoor learning strategies are needed more urgently than ever. As states decide how to spend new federal funding, now is the time to invest in high-quality outdoor learning environments across early learning settings to ensure that all children have the opportunity to thrive outside.

Join New America’s Early & Elementary Education Policy program and the National Wildlife Federation’s Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) program for a webinar highlighting opportunities to build outdoor learning opportunities that help young children thrive, especially children who may lack access to safe parks, nearby nature, or free time with family. This webinar builds on New America’s earlier event, Reimagining Early Care and Education: A New American Vision, by presenting high-quality outdoor play and learning as a critical part of a bold, post-pandemic agenda for a strong early care and education system that prioritizes equity and embraces whole-child approaches.

We will examine why investing in and supporting quality outdoor learning in early care and education should be a priority and explore how to make it a reality for all young children. This webinar will feature research supporting outdoor learning as a health equity strategy, success stories from practitioners in urban and rural settings, and policy levers at the federal and state levels for improving the quality of outdoor learning across early learning settings.

Follow the conversation online using #ThriveOutside and following @NewAmericaEd and @NWF.

Event Resources



  • Cara Sklar, Deputy Director Early & Elementary Education Policy, New America
  • Kathleen Belk Doffermyre, Senior Program Officer, The George B. Storer Foundation

Opening Remarks

  • Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization, National Wildlife Federation

Research Presentation

  • Sarah Konradi, Program Director, Early Childhood Health Outdoors

Practitioner Panel

  • Anupama Joshi, Executive Director, Blue Sky Funders Forum (moderator)
  • Debbie Gray, Quality and Technical Assistance Program Manager, Colorado Office of Early Childhood
  • Katie Krause, Nebraska Extension Educator, The Learning Child
  • Kim Shaw, Owner, A Safe Place Child Enrichment Center, Raleigh, NC

Policy Panel

  • Jennifer Zuckerman, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Duke World Food Policy Center (moderator)
  • Amanda Bryans, Director Research Analysis and Communication, Office of Early Childhood Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Kim Kofron, Director of Early Childhood Education, Children at Risk
  • Aliza Yair, Outdoor Preschool Pilot Program Specialist, Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families

Call to Action

  • Brian Kurzel, Regional Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Regional Center, National Wildlife Federation
  • Lynette Fraga, CEO, Child Care Aware of America

Closing Remarks

This event is made possible by the generous support of the George B. Storer Foundation.