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BMC Public Health. 2009 May 4;9:122. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-9-122.

Pilot evaluation of a walking school bus program in a low-income, urban community.

Author information

  • 1USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center and Academic General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, 1100 Bates St, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA . jason.mendoza@bcm.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

To evaluate the impact of a walking school bus (WSB) program on student transport in a low-income, urban neighborhood.

METHODS:

The design was a controlled, quasi-experimental trial with consecutive cross-sectional assessments. The setting was three urban, socioeconomically disadvantaged, public elementary schools (1 intervention vs. 2 controls) in Seattle, Washington, USA. Participants were ethnically diverse students in kindergarten-5th grade (aged 5-11 years). The intervention was a WSB program consisting of a part-time WSB coordinator and parent volunteers. Students' method of transportation to school was assessed by a classroom survey at baseline and one-year follow-up. The Pearson Chi-squared test compared students transported to school at the intervention versus control schools at each time point. Due to multiple testing, we calculated adjusted p-values using the Ryan-Holm stepdown Bonferroni procedure. McNemar's test was used to examine the change from baseline to 12-month follow-up for walking versus all other forms of school transport at the intervention or control schools.

RESULTS:

At baseline, the proportions of students (n = 653) walking to the intervention (20% +/- 2%) or control schools (15% +/- 2%) did not differ (p = 0.39). At 12-month follow up, higher proportions of students (n = 643, p = 0.001)) walked to the intervention (25% +/- 2%) versus the control schools (7% +/- 1%). No significant changes were noted in the proportion of students riding in a car or taking the school bus at baseline or 12-month follow up (all p > 0.05). Comparing baseline to 12-month follow up, the numbers of students who walked to the intervention school increased while the numbers of students who used the other forms of transport did not change (p < 0.0001). In contrast, the numbers of students who walked to the control schools decreased while the numbers of students who used the other forms of transport did not change (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION:

A WSB program is a promising intervention among urban, low-income elementary school students that may promote favorable changes toward active transport to school.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00402701.

PMID:
19413910
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2680829
Free PMC Article
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