Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Gilliland, Jason


Physical activity plays a fundamental role in developing and sustaining the health and well-being of children. Walking is the most common form of physical activity for people of all ages and the daily journey to and from school is a convenient opportunity for children to be physically active through the use of active school travel. This thesis uses a mixed methods approach, using: (a) parent and child surveys to examine how perceptions of barriers influence children’s active school travel; and (b) participatory mapping exercises and qualitative GIS to understand environmental influences on children’s journeys to and from school. Results suggest that parent and child perceptions of barriers vary greatly and are highly influenced by one’s individual environment. The overall aim of this research was to better understand features influencing children’s use of active school travel in order to improve interventions targeting increased physical activity. Findings from this thesis have implications for future research, urban planners, public health professionals, policy makers, educators, and parents.