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Characteristics associated with US Walk to School programs

Ward, Dianne S, Linnan, Laura, Vaughn, Amber, Neelon, Brian, Martin, Sarah L, Fulton, Janet E
The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity 2007 v.4 no.1 pp. 67
community service, environmental audits, funding, issues and policy, models, schools, surveys, walking, United States
Participation in Walk to School (WTS) programs has grown substantially in the US since its inception; however, no attempt has been made to systematically describe program use or factors associated with implementation of environment/policy changes. OBJECTIVE: Describe the characteristics of schools' WTS programs by level of implementation. METHODS: Representatives from 450 schools from 42 states completed a survey about their WTS program's infrastructure and activities, and perceived impact on walking to school. Level of implementation was determined from a single question to which respondents reported participation in WTS Day only (low), WTS Day and additional programs (medium), or making policy/environmental change (high). RESULTS: The final model showed number of community groups involved was positively associated with higher level of implementation (OR = 1.78, 95%CI = 1.44, 2.18), as was funding (OR = 1.56, 95%CI = 1.26, 1.92), years of participation (OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.23, 1.70), and use of a walkability assessment (OR = 3.22, 95%CI = 1.84, 5.64). Implementation level was modestly associated with increased walking (r = 0.18). CONCLUSION: Strong community involvement, some funding, repeat participation, and environmental audits are associated with progms that adopt environmental/policy change, and seem to facilitate walking to school.