Professional Practice Networks

Childrens Outdoor Environments

The focus of the Children's Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network is on designing areas for children to play, learn, and develop a relationship with nature.

The design of children's outdoor environments, reconnection with nature, health-related concerns, and related issues are increasingly gaining attention on a national and global level. One does not have to look far to find key examples of this burgeoning movement. Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, expresses the value of spontaneous outdoor play, the connection with nature during childhood, and concerns with raising today's "plugged-in" youth. According to a 2008 report of the Children & Nature Network, “the World Future Society ranked nature-deficit disorder as the fifth-most-important trend (on a list of 10) that would shape ... the years to come.” On February 11, 2015, the bipartisan No Child Left Inside Act was reintroduced into both the Senate and House. It will ensure that elementary and secondary school students are environmentally literate, and would provide grant funding for developing outdoor classrooms in public schools.

Landscape architects play a critical role in advocating and designing a variety of places for children to play, learn, and develop a relationship with the natural environment to carry with them into adulthood and citizenship. As design professionals, we have the opportunity to help foster young stewards of natural environment. The Children's Outdoor Environments PPN addresses the larger perspective of children’s daily landscapes to understand how to enhance their overall quality of life. This PPN deals with a range of topics such as play and learning environments (including nature-based settings), safety considerations, universal design, educational settings, urban environments, health care trends (including obesity, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and autism), plant selection, networking with other professionals and like-minded national organizations, and sharing literature, project examples, and experiences.

To join the Children's Outdoor Environments PPN, please complete this form or contact ASLA Member Services at 888-999-ASLA or


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