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Perceptions of school travel by parents and children: Opportunities for intervention

Dianne Ward, EdD1, Sapana Parikh, MPH1, Laura A. Linnan, ScD, CHES2, Kathyrn Ahlport, MSPH1, Catherine Giles, BS1, Kelly Evenson, PhD3, and Amber Vaughn, MPH, RD1. (1) Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1700 Airport Road, CB7426, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7426, 919-966-3245, Dianne_Ward@unc.edu, (2) Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, UNC Chapel Hill School of Public Health, CB #7440, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440, (3) Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bank of America Plaza, Suite 306, 137 East Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Among 4th and 5th grade children from two elementary schools in NC, 348 completed a 137-item questionnaire (67.1% response rate) while 199 parents of these children (39.3% response rate) completed a 46-item mailed questionnaire. Both questionnaires assessed active school travel as a regular source of physical activity. Comparing children and parent perceptions, no differences were found between parents (83.7%) and children (81.1%) in their beliefs that it was “cool” to walk or bike to/from school. 71.8% of parents within walking distance would allow their child to walk to/from school on his/her own, yet only 34.7% of children stated that their parents allowed them to do so. Parents within walking distance felt that the following issues would be of concern if their child walked or biked to/from school: crime (97.7%), lack of sidewalks (60.0%), child’s safe arrival (41.5%), child has too much to carry (33.0%), and kidnapping (30.5%). Children who lived close enough to walk/bike to or from school had the following concerns: could get hurt (51.3%), strangers (49.6%), lack of sidewalks (45.1%), too much to carry (44.9%), bad weather (43.7%), and kidnapping (41.0%). 59.4% of parents rated the power of parent groups as “moderate” in their ability to increase walking or biking to/from school. Children thought that walking with friends (94.0%), equipment storage at school (85.4%), less traffic (86.8%), and more sidewalks (76.2%) would make them want to walk or bike to/from school. Based on parent and child perceptions, active school travel could be a viable opportunity for physical activity.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Physical Activity, Interventions

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Political Economy of Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA