Enhancing safe routes to school programs through community-engaged citizen science: two pilot investigations in lower density areas of Santa Clara County, California, USA

Nicole M. Rodriguez, Alisa Arce, Alice Kawaguchi, Jenna Hua, Bonnie Broderick, Sandra J. Winter, Abby C. King
2019 BMC Public Health  
While promoting active commuting to school can positively affect children's daily physical activity levels, effectively engaging community members to maximize program impact remains challenging. We evaluated the initial utility of adding a technology-enabled citizen science engagement model, called Our Voice, to a standard Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to enhance program engagement activities and student travel mode behavior. Methods: In Investigation 1, a prospective controlled
more » ... controlled comparison design was used to compare the initial year of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department's SRTS program, with and without the Our Voice engagement model added, in two elementary schools in Gilroy, California, USA. School parents served as Our Voice citizen scientists in the SRTS + Our Voice school. In Investigation 2, the feasibility of the combined SRTS + Our Voice methods was evaluated in a middle school in the same district using students, rather than adults, as citizen scientists. Standard SRTS program engagement measures and student travel mode tallies were collected at the beginning and end of the school year for each school. Results: In the elementary school investigation (Investigation 1), the SRTS + Our Voice elementary school held twice as many first-year SRTS planning/encouragement events compared to the SRTS-Alone elementary school, and betweenschool changes in walking/biking to school rates favored the SRTS + Our Voice school (increases of 24.5% vs. 2.6%, P < .001). The Investigation 2 results supported the feasibility of using students to conduct SRTS + Our Voice in a middle school-age population. Conclusions: The findings from this first-generation study indicated that adding a technology-enabled citizen science process to a standard elementary school SRTS program was associated with higher levels of community engagement
doi:10.1186/s12889-019-6563-1 fatcat:3czocyvb6jc2hl4v3kdmg5h2lq