Table 1

Summary of Walking to School Findings


Themes and sub-themes

Current practices of school transportation

• Participants–a majority had walked to school in their home country

• Participants' children–few walked to school; most driven or bused

Benefits of walking

• Often learned from walking in home country

• Physical health benefits including maintaining weight and for preventing heart disease, blood pressure, and diabetes

• Mental health benefits–helps children wake up, good for emotions

• Being outside in nature, breathing fresh air, seeing natural world

• Spending quality time with children, especially to slow down & talk

Barriers to walking to school



• Fear of abductions; national media stories cited

• Bullying, homeless people, gangs

• Parents do not know and trust neighbors due to language barriers


• Heavy traffic, fast cars

• Unsafe street crossings, lack of crossing guards

• Lack of walking paths



• Many children not living near neighborhood schools

• Route too far and/or difficult (e.g. hilly)

Lack of time for parents to supervise walking

• Both parents working (Latino, Vietnamese)

• Many families too large for all children to walk together (Somali)

• More convenient to drop children off on way to work

• Must use child care before/after school

• Take bus to school further away to have earlier pick-up time for working parents


• Rain, darkness and cold, especially in winter months


• Lack of necessity to walk; children not accustomed to it

Approaches to improve walking to school

Street safety

• Improve safety on the route through cross-walks, crossing guards

• More safety patrols/police in the neighborhoods

• Teach children safety

Facilitate adult-supervised walking (e.g. Walking School Bus)

• Facilitate adults/parents meeting to organize walking school bus

• Involve school staff as walking group leaders

• More walking after school

Offer more options for children of working parents

• On-site before school child care or supervised walking/activity time

Greves et al. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2007 4:64   doi:10.1186/1479-5868-4-64

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