Promoting active school travel in elementary schools: A regional case study of the school travel planning intervention
Journal of Transport & Health
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Active school travel (AST) can be a viable way to increase children's low levels of daily physical activity by promoting opportunities to walk and wheel. To promote AST in Canada, School Travel Plan (STP) programs have been implemented throughout the country. The STP program is a comprehensive 2-year intervention that is facilitated by a committee of community and school partners who implement education, encouragement, enforcement, and engineering initiatives at their school to support AST.
This study examines the impact of the STP program on children's and parents’ perceptions of AST barriers, and children's engagement in AST from pre- to post-intervention. In total, 13 elementary schools representing a total sample of 4720 parents and 2084 children from across Southwestern Ontario, Canada were involved in this program evaluation.
Findings indicate that the STP program was successful in significantly reducing children's and parents’ perceptions of AST barriers. An analysis of travel behaviour found the STP program was limited in affecting behavioural change, as the results show an insignificant trend of increasing AST use and decreasing car use.
Changing perceptions of AST barriers suggests that the STP intervention has the potential to change intentions and motivation for parents and children, which may lead to significant increases in future AST. This study recommends that future interventions focus on parental education and empowerment initiatives to reduce an apparent intention-behaviour gap that exists in their AST decision making process.