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Despite the health benefits associated with physical activity participation, activity levels of North American children are declining. In response, practitioners are placing emphasis on active forms of transportation to and from school. The purpose of this study was to explore the barriers and facilitators to active transportation to school (ATS) from the perspectives of practitioners.
The perspectives of 19 practitioners (eg, health promoters, traffic engineers, police, etc.) from 3 communities in Alberta, Canada were captured using focus group interviews followed by content analysis.
Subthemes tied to barriers included logistics, lifestyle, safety, and lack of resources; while facilitators were comprised of collaboration, education, and leadership. The results were interpreted using an ecological model of health behavior.
The most common ATS barriers: attitudes and safety concerns, lack of resources and time, and the nature of the natural and built environments were associated with the intrapersonal, organizational, and physical environmental factors, respectively. The most significant organizational facilitators concerned collaboration among parents, schools, businesses, community organizations, and government agencies. While the multifaceted nature of barriers and facilitators add complexity to the issue, it also challenges practitioners to think and act creatively in finding solutions.
The authors are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.