240166 Walk this way! A success story of “Safe Routes to School” program implementation in Atlanta, Georgia

Monday, October 31, 2011

Susan Henderson, MD, MPH , Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Robin Tanner, RD , Department of Health Promotion, Dekalb County Board of Health, Decatur, GA
Norma Klanderman , PTA, Oak Grove Elementary School, Atlanta, GA
Abby Mattera , School Outreach Coordinator, Safe Routes to School, Atlanta, GA
Lindsey Webb, MPH , Institute of Public Health, Geogia State University, Atlanta, GA
John Steward, MPH , Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Background: Physical activity is decreasing in children, yet active commuting is a means of increasing activity for both children and adults as they walk to school. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federally-funded program established to encourage children to walk to school and make the infrastructure changes available to do so.

Methods: The SRTS Online Guide was used as a model for program implementation which began in the fall of 2008.This case study was done in an elementary school of 658 students in Atlanta, Georgia. A SRTS National Center written survey was administered by parents to parents each fall between 2008 and 2010 to assess the method of transportation to and from school, the barriers to walking, and the level of school encouragement.

Results: Before the start of the program in 2008, 18% of students walked to school at least once a week. By 2010, when the program had achieved gold-level status, 42% walked to school regularly. Major barriers to walking identified in the parent survey included the safety of intersections and crossings (68%), the amount of traffic (64%), and the speed of traffic (55%). Ninety-five percent responded that the school encouraged children to walk or bike to and/or from school.

Discussion: There was a more than a two-fold increase in the percentage of students that walked to school over the course of two years. Factors associated with the success of the program were the school cooperation, parent involvement, responsiveness of public officials, community partnerships, and task force organization.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the Safe Routes to School national, state, and local program 2) Analyze results from the local SRTS parent survey 3) List factors associated with a successful program 4) Discuss how one school can promote change throughout the community

Keywords: Children, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the coordinator of this program and I wrote the abstract.
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.