Online Program

Lessons Learned from the implementation of a Walking School Bus Program in Urban Maine

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rebecca Drewette-Card, MSPH, Partnerships For Health, Augusta, ME
Troy Fullmer, Division of Population Health, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Augusta, ME
Michelle Mitchell, MSocSc, Partnerships For Health, Augusta, ME
Ashley Tetreault, MBA, Partnerships For Health, Augusta, ME
Introduction: According to the CDC, 60 minutes of daily physical activity is recommended for children. For low-income youth residing in urban areas, it can be challenging to achieve this due to home-life constraints and safety concerns. However, safe, structured physical activity, such as walking to/from school with a community-organized Walking School Bus (WSB), can help youth reach this goal.

Methods: Working with parents, volunteers, school administrators, and community partners, a community-led WSB was implemented for elementary students in urban Maine. The school has a higher than average transition student population; approximately 50% of students are identified as racial / ethnic minority, and 80% receive free/reduced lunch. To assess the efficacy of the program, structured interviews were conducted with local WSB coordinators and Bicycle Coalition of Maine staff who provided technical assistance. Focus groups were conducted with parents of children participating in the WSB. Data were analyzed using an inductive model and thematic analysis.

Results: Salient determinants of participation were identified. Examples include parents’ positive attitudes towards the WSB and perceived convenience of the WSB. We also identified key facilitators such as warmer weather and barriers such as concerns regarding child safety, and managing volunteers associated with implementation. Finally, participants discussed challenges such as recruitment, scheduling and retention of students and volunteers.

Conclusion: The implementation of the WSB has important implications for improving the health of current elementary students in urban Maine and similar states. We will discuss the lessons learned which may be useful for future community implementation of WSBs.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice

Learning Objectives:
Describe three components of the Walking School Bus Identify three factors which contributed to successful implementation of the Walking School Bus Identify and analyze three strategies for overcoming barriers hindering the Walking School Bus program

Keyword(s): Evaluation, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have participated as a key team member for the evaluation of this project with Partnerships For Health. My primary professional interests are in the areas of physical activity and nutrition promotion and chronic disease prevention. I have spent the last ten years working on these issues in Maine. I hold a MSPH in public health. Partnerships For Health is the lead independent evaluator for the Maine CDC PAC 1305 Grant.
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.