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What is Active & Safe Routes to School?

Active & Safe Routes to School is a community-based initiative that promotes the use of active transportation to and from school, addressing health, physical activity, and traffic safety issues while taking action on air pollution and climate change. At the forefront of public health agendas across Canada, childhood obesity has become a serious concern with rates tripling over the last 3 decades. A major objective of ASRTS is to address this issue by reducing perceived risks and barriers of active travel to school, and in turn, increasing physical activity among children.

Active & Safe Routes to School began with grassroots efforts of parents who were concerned for their children’s health and safety. Over the past decade it has evolved into a national movement supported by a large network of Canadian organizations who believe active transportation on the trip to and from school increases health and happiness, and creates daily fitness habits for life.

Programs

The flagship program of ASRTS is the School Travel Plan (STP), which is a program that engages schools and community stakeholders in identifying and addressing barriers to active travel to and from school. Schools who participate in the STP program are expected to develop a living document that is used to help facilitate active travel to and from school. Key community partners include city officials, police, public health professionals, community organizations, school boards, educators, parents, and children.

Role of the HEAL

The ASRTS steering committee of St. Thomas, Elgin, London, Middlesex, and Oxford is comprised of many community groups, including the HEAL at Western University. The HEAL has been part of this committee since its inception. Our role on the committee is to help identify challenges and potential solutions to school transportation problems in the region.

In particular, the HEAL is part of the STP working group, with the responsibilities of collecting and analyzing baseline data and developing the action plan. To do this, a representative of our lab acts as a co-facilitator in the distribution of youth and family surveys in the schools. Once surveys are completed, the data is securely transferred to the HEAL for processing. Basic analysis of the data is conducted, and major issues and trends are identified. Results are summarized and presented to the school’s STP committee for further use in the development and implementation of the Action Plan.

HEAL works with community partners for Active & Safe Routes to School sharing event

HEAL works with community partners for Active & Safe Routes to School sharing event

On July 18th, members of the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL) were joined by over 40 community partners at Civic…

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In the Eye of the Beholder: Parent and Child Perceptions of Active School Travel

In the Eye of the Beholder: Parent and Child Perceptions of Active School Travel

Engaging both children and their parents is critical to the success of any active school travel (AST) initiative. Yet these…

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Provincial priorities for mobilizing Active School Travel

Provincial priorities for mobilizing Active School Travel

Kate Berry from Green Communities Canada presents 'Provincial priorities for mobilizing Active School Travel' The Children’s Health and the Environment…

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Climate Change & Active School Travel: Go Green Travel Clean Campaign

Climate Change & Active School Travel: Go Green Travel Clean Campaign

The Human Environments Analysis Laboratory at Western University received funding to support the development of educational materials and messaging to connect Active…

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HEAL’s Dr. Andrew Clark speaks at ASRTS Awards Night!

HEAL’s Dr. Andrew Clark speaks at ASRTS Awards Night!

HEAL Project Coordinator and Senior Research Associate spoke about the importance of walking and wheeling to school at the Active…

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Active Transportation Policies and Initiatives for Busing Consortia

Active Transportation Policies and Initiatives for Busing Consortia

Vicky Kyriaco from the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority presents 'Active Transportation Policies and Initiatives for Busing Consortia: Ottawa's School Active…

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School Travel Planning: Walking in Partnership for Supportive Environments

School Travel Planning: Walking in Partnership for Supportive Environments

Emily Van Kesteren and Tara MacDaniel from the Middlesex-London Health Unit and Pam Ewart from the Elgin-St. Thomas Public Health…

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School Travel Planning in Active Construction Zones

School Travel Planning in Active Construction Zones

Laura Zeglen from Green Communities Canada presents School Travel Planning in Active Construction Zones: A Pilot Project at CHEWS. The…

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A Systematic Review of Disability’s Treatment in the Active School Travel and Children’s Independent Mobility Literatures

A Systematic Review of Disability’s Treatment in the Active School Travel and Children’s Independent Mobility Literatures

Tim Ross from the University of Toronto presents A Systematic Review of Disabilities Treatment in the Active School Travel and…

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Promoting active school travel in elementary schools – A regional case study of the school travel planning intervention

Promoting active school travel in elementary schools – A regional case study of the school travel planning intervention

Active school travel (AST) is achieved by “walking and wheeling” to and from school as opposed to using vehicular transport.…

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Dr. Gilliland’s CBC Interview on Bus Transportation issues in London ON

Dr. Gilliland’s CBC Interview on Bus Transportation issues in London ON

Jason Gilliland, Western Geography Professor and Director of the Human Environments Analysis Lab and Urban Development Program, joined CBC's London…

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New Publication: Children’s perspectives on neighbourhood barriers and enablers to active school travel: A participatory mapping study

New Publication: Children’s perspectives on neighbourhood barriers and enablers to active school travel: A participatory mapping study

This research uses innovative participatory mapping and qualitative GIS methods to examine how children’s perceptions of their environments influence their…

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Londoner interviews HEAL members on the Active and Safe Routes to School initiative

Londoner interviews HEAL members on the Active and Safe Routes to School initiative

HEAL researchers, Dr. Andrew Clark, Dr. Jason Gilliland, Katherine Wilson and Kate Schieman along with Sabrina Sater, supervisor of neighbourhood development…

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New Publication: Understanding child and parent perceptions of barriers influencing children’s active school travel

New Publication: Understanding child and parent perceptions of barriers influencing children’s active school travel

Physical activity plays a fundamental role in the health and well-being of children. The journey to and from school offers…

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New Publication: Supporting active school travel: A qualitative analysis of implementing a regional safe routes to school program

New Publication: Supporting active school travel: A qualitative analysis of implementing a regional safe routes to school program

Active school travel (AST), that is walking and wheeling to/from school, can be a relatively undemanding method for families to…

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New publication: Active School Travel Intervention Methodologies in North America: A Systematic Review

New publication: Active School Travel Intervention Methodologies in North America: A Systematic Review

Most North American (Canada & U.S.) children are not achieving their prescribed levels of daily physical activity. Active school travel…

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London Free Press features HEAL’s Dr. Gilliland and Dr. Clark on Active and Safe Routes to School Project

London Free Press features HEAL’s Dr. Gilliland and Dr. Clark on Active and Safe Routes to School Project

Dr. Jason Gilliland and Dr. Andrew Clark were recently featured in the London Free Press on the Active and Safe…

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Climate Change & Active School Travel

The Human Environments Analysis Laboratory at Western University received funding to support the development of educational materials and messaging to connect Active School Travel with Climate Change. The following are resources available to use in schools and within the community.

Videos

Check out the wonderful videos that were created by the project team about Walking & Wheeling to SchoolWalking to the Bus Stop and Taking the Bus, and Anti-Idling.

Literature Review

A scoping literature review was conducted by HEALab student Alina Medeiros. The following PowerPoint presentation is the results of this work. For more information about this review, please contact the HEALab at heal @ uwo.ca.

Climate Change and AST PowerPoint

Toolkit

Climate Change Toolkit

We have created a guide that contains all the information needed to promote active travel and combat climate change at your school. All of the resources centre around the three themes of this campaign: Walk to School; Take the School Bus; and Idle Free for the Kids. In this guide you will find resources such as a facilitator’s guide, social media campaigns, school announcements and newsletters, and activities with curriculum connections.

Climate Change Toolkit

Resources

Posters (11 x 17)

Go Green Travel Clean

English

French

Walk to School

English 

French

Take the School Bus

English 

French

Idle Free for the Kids

English 

French

Colouring Sheets (8.5 x 11)

Walk to School

English 

French

Take the School Bus

English 

French

Idle Free for the Kids

English 

French

Activities with Curriculum Connections

A series of activities promoting the different messages of Climate Change and Active School Travel have been developed with related curriculum connections around the three themes of the campaign: Walk to School; Take the School Bus; and Idle Free for the Kids.

Note: the passport is best aligned when printed using Internet Explorer.

Social Media Posts & Messages

Facebook Posts

English

Twitter Messages

August to October: English
February to May: English

School Announcements

English

Newsletter Inserts

English

French

Additional iWalk Resources

For additional information and resources for iWalk campaigns and events please check out our Walking & Wheeling Campaign Resources and/or the Ontario Active School Travel page.

Evaluation

Key components of the School Travel Plan (STP) are baseline and evaluation phases. The baseline data is used to develop an action plan, while the information collected during the evaluation helps to develop steps for sustainability and celebrate successes. The HEAL helps with these phases of the STP by setting up surveys and analyzing the data collected. Two surveys are used at both the baseline and evaluation phase – one for parents and one for students in grades 4 to 8 who have parent/guardian consent. From these surveys, the following documents are created:

  • A PowerPoint with response statistics, characteristics of students’ journeys to/from school, and information regarding barriers to active school travel for parents and students;
  • Locations of concern map and summary enable communities to identify where the largest barriers to active school travel are in the school neighbourhoods to develop action items to address the issues within these areas; and
  • Traffic count summaries enable the results of the traffic count to be presented clearly and concisely to the school community

The follow-up report is created when the school is in the final phase of their STP. This report summarizes the initiatives that have taken place within the school to promote active and safe travel to/from school.

For more information on this process, or to start the process in your school please contact playeveryday@uwo.ca.

Contact Us

Western University Evaluation
Dr. Andrew Clark & Dr. Jason Gilliland; playeveryday@uwo.ca; 519-661-2111 x82619