Supporting active school travel: A qualitative analysis of implementing a regional Safe Routes to school program

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 can be discussed to support the building of efficient, effective, and viable AST intervention environments.


Buttazzoni, A. N., Clark, A. F., Seabrook, J. A., & Gilliland, J. A. (2019). Promoting active school travel in elementary schools: A regional case study of the school travel planning intervention. Journal of Transport & Health, 12, 206-219. doi:10.1016/j.jth.2019.01.007

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