PROmoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO) 1.0

An outdoor play study for children aged 3 to 5 years in early childhood education centres


Early learning and childcare (ELCCs) centres are important settings for children’s outdoor play. ELCC centres can face challenges in providing these opportunities for children.

The PROmoting Early Childhood Outside (PRO-ECO) 1.0 is a pilot study that develops, implements and evaluates a comprehensive study to increase time spent by children in quality outdoor play in ELCC centres. The PRO-ECO study integrates four main pieces:

  • Modifying outdoor play spaces;
  • Early childhood educator training and mentorship;
  • Parent and caregiver engagement; and,
  • Updating policies and procedures

We work in close partnership with the YMCA of Greater Vancouver with support from scientific advisors and public health and licensing professionals. We are now looking into how the PRO-ECO study influences the time children spent outside and types of outdoor play – using a study method called randomized controlled trial. Eight YMCA centres were randomly assigned to receive the PRO-ECO study either first or second, and we collected data at three different times to see the influence on the children.

All 8 centres have received the PRO-ECO study and we have completed our final round of data collection. We are now in the process of analyzing the data and presenting our findings.

Funding information

Generously supported by the Lawson Foundation 2021-2023

Publications & Resources

1. Ramsden, R., Han, S.C., Mount, D., Loebach, J., Cox, A., Herrington, S., Bundy, A., Fyfe-Johnson, A., Sandseter, E.B.H., Stone, M., Tremblay, M.S., & Brussoni, M. (2022). An Intervention to Increase Outdoor Play in Early Childhood Education Centers (PROmoting Early Childhood Outside): Protocol for a Pilot Wait-list Control Cluster Randomized Trial. JMIR Research Protocol, 11(7), e:38365.

2. Herrington, S., Lexa-French, I., Brussoni, M. (2022). Rewilding Play: Design Build Interventions. Education Sciences, 12(10), 653.

3. Nova, N., Snyder, L., Herrington, S., Brussoni, M., & Mount, D. (2022). Singing With Plants.

4. Corcoran, B., Nguyen, T., Herrington, S., Li, W., Liu, O., Shahbazi, T., & Yeung., O. (May 2024). Shade Lookbook, A Guide to Designing Sun Safety. Vancouver: BC Cancer.