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. Partaking in AST has proven to be associated with improved mental and physical health in children. Factors that influence one’s participation in AST include an individual’s socioeconomic status, environmental conditions such as neighbourhood characteristics, and the local policy that exists for commuting boundaries. School Travel Program interventions have been implemented across Canada and strive to consider all of these aspects in order to effectively encourage more positive attitudes from children and parents about AST, leading to more participation.

HEAL team members Adrian Buttazzoni, Andrew Clark, Jamie Seabrook, and Jason Gilliland carried out a regional study focusing on the effectiveness of School Travel Programs on AST in Southwestern Ontario schools. Through pre- and post-intervention data in the form of childrens’ and parents’ answers to surveys, it is evident that School Travel Programs decreased children and parent views on barriers to AST. However, only an insignificant trend of increased AST participation and decreased car use was observed, meaning that behavioral change was not as strongly affected. Further studies should address the discrepancy that exists between parent and child intentions to partake in AST and actually participating.

The Children’s Health Research Institute Quality of Life Initiative provided graduate student funding for this study. Support from associated partners Active and Safe Routes to School committees of Elgin-St. Thomas, London, Middlesex, and Oxford was greatly appreciated.


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