179236 Safe Routes to School: Attitudes and Concerns of School Leadership

Monday, October 27, 2008

Delores Pluto, PhD , Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Olga Ogoussan , Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Background: Safe Route to School (SRTS) programs are funded nationwide to increase walking and cycling to school. Successful programs depend on the support of school and district leadership. Methods: The SC School Travel Survey was conducted in 2007 to learn more about the school and district policies related to walking and cycling, and about concerns and attitudes of school leaders. The survey was distributed to district superintendents, board chairs, and a sample of elementary and middle school principals in SC. The survey asked what policies the school or district had related to walking and cycling to school. It also asked respondents to indicate how each of 8 factors (street crossings, sidewalks, traffic volume, traffic speed, parent attitudes, student attitudes, distance, and neighborhood conditions) influenced the number of students walking. They were then asked to rank the top three of these factors. Results: The survey achieved an overall response rate of 57%. Schools were more likely to have restrictive policies related to walking and cycling compared to districts, with elementary schools likely to have the most restrictive policies (i.e., policies that either discouraged or prohibited walking or cycling). Principals were more likely than district leaders to consider traffic volume or speed among the top concerns. Elementary principals were more likely to rank crossings and less likely to rank student attitudes as top factors compared to middle school principals. Discussion: Results can help SRTS programs better understand concerns of school leadership and build stronger partnerships to address these concerns in the community.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify top concerns of school and district leadership related to walking and cycling to school. 2. Describe differences in concerns between school and district leadership and between elementary and middle school principals. 3. Identify opportunities to build stronger Safe Routes to School partnerships at the school and district level.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Partnerships

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was lead investigator on the project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.