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Dr. Linda Hestenes (Human Development and Family Studies) received new funding from North Carolina State University The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. for the project “Outdoor Learning Environment Observational Evaluation: Infant / Toddler Shape NC Healthy Starts for Young Children Initiative.”

The goal of the current project is to offer continued technical support to enhance infants and toddlers outdoor learning environments in childcare centers for active living, healthy eating, and outdoor learning. To meet this goal, the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) at NC State University is offering design assistance for implementation, professional development activities, and resources to support the incremental development of age-appropriate high-quality outdoor environments for infants and toddlers. Evaluation activities will be conducted to demonstrate the impact of such environments.

As a subaward to the broader project, Dr. Linda Hestenes, from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at UNC Greensboro, will direct the outdoor learning environment (OLE) observational evaluation components of this project. Hestenes and her OLE research team will conduct observations in up to 19 infant/toddler outdoor learning environments (from the broader project) to assess overall quality, physical activity, and social interactions between young children and their participating teachers.

The UNCG OLE team will work with the NLI project staff to finalize the observational measures to best meet the overall project goals. The UNCG OLE team will establish and maintain reliability on the agreed upon measures, collect the data across the OLE sites, run quantitative analyses, and produce a final report of the evaluation findings.

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