Research Papers

AN OBSERVATIONAL STUDY OF ACTIVE SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION AND STROLLER USE IN KINDERGARTEN CHILDREN IN TORONTO, CANADA

Version 1
Date added June 30, 2016
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Category 2016 CARSP XXVI Halifax
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 3C
Author/Auteur Linda Rothman
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

3C - Rothman

Abstract

Background/Context: Background Declines in child pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions have occurred over the past 20 years possibly as a result of a simultaneous decline in children walking to school. Active school transportation (AST) is a form of physical activity that should be encouraged as all children make the daily school commute. Little is known about AST in kindergarten students (4-5 years) and it is suspected that many young children travel to school by sedentary means such as by stroller. Stroller use is of particular interest, as recent recommendations from the medical and exercise communities include limited stroller use as sedentary devices that restrain movement which may lead to reduced physical activity. To date, there is no other known AST research using direct observations that is specifically related to kindergarten students and the prevalence of stroller use.

Aims/Objectives:1. To determine the proportion of kindergarten children arriving at school by active modes in Toronto elementary schools and compare to the proportion of students of all ages (kindergarten- grade 6).  2. To determine the prevalence of stroller use as a school transportation mode for kindergarten children and examine its association with overall active school transportation.

Methods/Target Group: A cross-sectional observational study examining school transportation modes and stroller use was conducted in two samples in May-June 2015 at kindergarten to grade 6 schools in Toronto, Canada: 1) observations of kindergarten students were conducted outside of schools with separate kindergarten entrances (n = 26 schools, 1,069 observations); 2) observations were conducted at optimal viewing locations (n = 100 schools, 19, 598 observations) for students of all ages. Proportions of children arriving by different modes of transport were compared between samples using Chi–square hypothesis testing. Stroller and wagon counts were combined, as they represent similar modes of sedentary transportation. The association of stroller/wagon use with AST was assessed using Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients.

Results/Activities: The use of active modes was significantly lower in the kindergarten sample (n = 26 schools) compared to those in the all-age sample (n = 100 schools); 60% versus 74%, Chi-square = 91.37, p <0.001. The predominant sedentary travel mode was by car (38%). The proportion of kindergarten children arriving by stroller or wagons was 1.8%. There was no association between the proportions of stroller/wagon use and AST in either sample.

Discussion/Deliverables: Observed AST was significantly lower in kindergarten students compared to all ages. Strollers and wagons were not generally used for school travel by kindergarten students and their use was unrelated to overall AST at the schools.

Conclusions: It is important that the traffic environment on the route to and around schools be safe for young children, in order to encourage active school transportation and reducing sedentary modes of travel; particularly car travel.

Linda Rothman