Grow Outdoors South Carolina

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ECHO in South Carolina: A new partnership

On December 11, the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) Division of Early Care and Education and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced their partnership with the National Wildlife Federation’s Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) initiative and North Carolina University’s Natural Learning Initiative.

This innovative partnership is part of the Grow Outdoors SC initiative, a collaborative effort focused on providing high-quality, outdoor play spaces for young children across South Carolina. By transforming early childhood outdoor spaces into diverse, naturalized environments that spark play and learning, partners hope to create a future where all children in South Carolina spend time outdoors for health, happiness, and a greater appreciation of nature.

Grow Outdoors SC supports child care programs by providing information and resources, professional development, and design assistance. To assist these efforts, ECHO is hiring a local team comprised of landscape designers and early education professionals who will provide design assistance, resources, and training to child care programs to help co-create and activate outdoor learning environments that promote nature-based play, physical activity, and healthy eating.

“ECHO is honored to be a part of this exciting collaboration to enhance and activate naturalized outdoor play and learning environments for young children across South Carolina,” says ECHO Senior Director of Design & Engagement, Dr. Rebecca Colbert. “As an initiative of the National Wildlife Federation, the ECHO team understands that we have a unique opportunity to help young children develop a connection to nature. In addition, our specialized expertise includes landscape design strategies that help mitigate heat and enhance climate resilience – supporting both healthy children and healthy communities.”

The ECHO team is excited to partner with South Carolina state leaders and the Natural Learning Initiative to advance outdoor play and learning in the state. Find out more about the partnership here.

Press Releases:
DSS Press Release
DHEC Press Release
1000 Feathers Press Release

Media Coverage:

The Times and Democrat
Post and Courier
WOLO (ABC Columbia)
WLTX (CBS Columbia) - SC Initiative encouraging outdoor play welcomes new partners |
WIS TV (NBC Columbia) – 4pm | 6pm
WMBF (NBC Myrtle Beach)
WYFF (NBC Greenville)

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Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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