Human Environments Analysis Lab (HEAL)


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

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Social Science & Medicine



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Physical inactivity among children is a significant public health concern. Active school travel (AST) methods, such as walking and wheeling to school, can be a valuable way to increase children's levels of daily physical activity. In Canada, Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS), a national health promotion initiative, has led the campaign for AST through its flagship school travel plan (STP) program. At present little is known about the onthe-ground implementation processes that impede or facilitate the success of STPs. Through a thematic analysis of 18 interviews with STP facilitators and 4 focus groups with the larger STP committees, our study evaluates the factors shaping the functioning of STP interventions at ten elementary schools participating in a regional ASRTS program in Southwestern Ontario. Our analysis yielded six themes that have implications for STP implementation and sustainability: 1) accounting for school context; 2) establishing committee capacity and leadership; 3) supporting STP action; 4) responsiveness to external and internal barriers; 5) engaging schools at the grassroots level; and 6) building future champions. We draw from Lewin's Field Theory and discuss the forces affecting STP committees to frame our findings in a way that c

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