UBC Undergraduate Research

Promoting intercultural understanding and physical activity in UBC's Walk'n Roll Program Alawes, Jamal; Lobo, Narada; Gottlieb, Nicolai; Pierse, Fionnuala


Over the last few decades there have been declining rates of active transportation among school children, which have initiated the development of several programs such as Safe Routes To School, the Walking School Bus, and Walk To School. Together with UTown, the University Neighbourhood Association (UNA) has established a Walk’n Roll program that allows elementary school children to safely and actively commute to school under the supervision of parent volunteers. Purpose. The purpose of this project is “to expand on UBC’s Walk’n Roll Program so that it further promotes physical activity amongst students and parents, and intercultural understanding amongst all residents of UTown@UBC” (Cureton, 2015a). Objective. The objective of this paper is to evaluate UNA’s current Walk’n Roll program so that in conjunction with qualitative observations and academic research, recommendations can be provided to improve the program. Method. The four researchers involved in this study participated in UTown’s Walk’n Roll Celebration Week (October 5th to October 9th, 2015). Each researcher was randomly assigned to one of four UTown neighbourhoods in which they accompanied parent volunteers and children to school, following the appropriate Safe Route to School. Researchers alternated routes to gain a more complete understanding of how the program was run within each neighbourhood. Results. Among our findings, three main challenges emerged: (1) the lack of participation from older students, (2) the inconsistent use of safety protocols amongst volunteers, and (3) the lack of opportunities to gather data about participation. Limitations. The findings of this study were limited due to time constraints, lack of ethical approval resulting in the inability to conduct formal surveys with children, and inaccurate participation rates due to misplaced passports. Recommendations. To improve the development of this program, three recommendations have been suggested: (1) facilitate student leadership in older students, (2) increase the focus on facilitating traffic safety skills in children, and (3) use the Walk’n Roll website for promoting and monitoring of the program. Conclusion. The Walk’n Roll program has become a hugely successful program through the University Neighbourhood Association. Our analysis has revealed many strong features of the program and has accordingly proposed appropriate recommendations for further development. The next steps for this program would be the implementation of the suggested recommendations, the use of surveys as a form of data collection, and further exploration of the subcultures found within elementary schools. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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