• Contact Us

    OLE! Texas
    Obesity Prevention Program
    PO Box 149347, MC 1944 
    Austin, Texas 78714-9347

    Phone: 512-776-7111
    Fax: 512-458-7618

    BringingHealthyBack@dshs.texas.gov

OLE! Texas

OLE! Texas text mark superimposed over collage of children olaying and learning outdoors.

What is OLE! Texas and why is it important? 

Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE!) Texas is a statewide initiative that promotes healthful, nature-based outdoor spaces at early childcare and education (ECE) programs. A healthful outdoor environment helps preschool children be more physically active while they play, discover, and connect with nature.

More than 1.1 million little Texans spend time at the state’s nearly 20,000 ECEs. Unfortunately, over thirty percent of Texas children between the ages of 2 and 4 are already overweight or obese. Promoting physical activity in ECEs is a critical step in reducing obesity. It also encourages healthy behaviors that support children during early development and later in life.

To help reduce the overweight and obesity burden, the OLE! Texas initiative:

  • Promotes nature-based design elements shown to reduce sedentary behavior as well as support motor skill and psycho-social development.
  • Enables early childhood educators to move their lessons outside by using natural design elements such as vegetable gardens, fruit trees, looping pathways, grasses, and other activity stations to support child development, food awareness, and nature play.
  • Provides education to ECE staff, design professionals, and community stakeholders about the best practices for designing an outdoor learning environment.

What is the evidence supporting OLE! Texas?

OLE! Texas is based on the Preventing Obesity by Design (POD) model. Higher physical activity levels and a 22 percent reduction in sedentary behavior among preschoolers is associated with the POD model. View the article, Childcare Outdoor Renovation as a Built Environment Health Promotion Strategy: Evaluating the Preventing Obesity by Design Intervention, [pdf] published in the American Journal of Health Promotion. 

How will OLE! Texas achieve outcomes?

Texas Department of State Health Services leads a team of state agencies and local organizations to promote OLE! Texas at ECEs. Through this collective effort, our goal is to develop resources for ECEs to implement quality outdoor spaces.

DSHS received a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) multi-year grant to help with funding. State and local partner organizations are helping to implement it.

To promote OLE! Texas, the statewide leadership team’s strategic plan seeks to increase the number of ECEs with properly designed outdoor learning environments.

The leadership team is focused on:

  • Developing a network of trained landscape and design professionals to design with ECE staff outdoor spaces featuring best practices.
  • Convening local coalitions to identify local resources to assist ECEs with the process of developing and constructing a proper outdoor learning environment.
  • Creating resources for professionals from key disciplines (landscape architects, ECE staff, horticulturalists, licensing professionals, nature play specialists, etc.) to increase technical expertise.
  • Identifying funding resources for ECEs and designers to receive training, develop schematics, and complete construction.

OLE! Texas is an initiative of Texas Department of State Health Services, in partnership with other state agencies, universities and organizations across Texas. 


External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These sites may not be accessible to people with disabilities.

Last updated April 30, 2020