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Texas Tech Researchers Evaluate Playgrounds
Look to Decrease Obesity

Texas Tech Researchers Evaluate Playgrounds

?? 1/2 OLE! Lubbock,?? 1/2 a group of researchers spearheaded by professors Charles Klein and Krisit Gaines from Texas Tech University, recently conducted workshops for a childcare center at Amarillo College and at the Texas Tech Early Head Start Program. Their research is focused on lowering obesity rates through interactive play.

Two professors at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, are heading a group of researchers that are tasked with examining the relationship between the design of outdoor play spaces and their correlation to healthier, more active lifestyles.

Charles Klein, an associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, and Kristi Gaines, an associate professor in the Department of Design in the College of Human Sciences and associate dean of the graduate school, are the professors leading the group known as "OLE! Lubbock," which stands for Outdoor Learning Environments.

"I'm working with the OLE! Texas Initiative, sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services, as an early intervention strategy to address the obesity epidemic," professor Klein told "My work is almost exclusively with childcare centers, although it's a natural evolution to expand to schools and parks. It's an exciting movement."

OLE, takes its principles from the Natural Learning Initiative, founded in 2000 at North Carolina State University and adopted by the DSHS. Recently, the DSHS reached out to Texas Tech to help develop a list of the 12 best-practice indicators in order to reduce obesity rates by utilizing play area design.

"In other words, the way we design an outdoor play space can lead to healthier, active lifestyles," professor Klein stated in a Texas Tech news article. "It focuses on incremental implementation, growing your outdoor environment like you grow your kids. It promotes sweat equity and having parental involvement."

Klein and Gaines have worked with the DSHS to develop three pilot design workshops, the first of which was in conjunction with the Covenant Child Development Center, a daycare facility near the university, to create an OLE that encourages physical activity, food awareness and healthier lifestyles for children.

Recently, OLE! Lubbock received a $149,982 grant from the USDA, allowing OLE! Lubbock to conduct more workshops with childcare centers around the region.

"The reason we chose childcare centers is that it's an early intervention opportunity," Klein said in the aforementioned article. "There are almost 3,000 licensed childcare centers in Texas, and 30 percent of children aged 3 to 5 are either obese or overweight in Texas."

To learn more about OLE! Lubbock, visit their site by clicking this link:

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August 24, 2019, 1:08 am PDT

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