Hawaii’s Opportunity for Active Living Advancement (HO‘ALA): Addressing Childhood Obesity through Safe Routes to School

Increasing active transportation to and from school may reduce childhood obesity rates in Hawaii. A community partnership was formed to address this issue in Hawaii’s Opportunity for Active Living Advancement (HO‘ÄLA), a quasi-experimental study of active transportation in Hawaii County.

  • The purpose of this study was to determine baseline rates for active transportation rates to and from school and to track changes related to macro-level (statewide) policy, locally-based Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs and bicycle and pedestrian planning initiatives expected to improve the safety, comfort and ease of walking and bicycling to and from school.
  • Measures included parent surveys, student travel tallies, traffic counts and safety observations. Assessments of the walking and biking environment around each school were made using the Pedestrian Environment Data Scan. Complete Streets and SRTS policy implementation was tracked through the activities of a state transportation-led Task Force and an advocacy-led coalition, respectively. Planning initiatives were tracked through citizen-based advisory committees.
  • Thirteen volunteer schools participated as the intervention (n=8) or comparison (n=5) schools. The majority of students were Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander in schools located in under-resourced communities.
  • Overall, few children walked or biked to school. The majority of children were driven to and from school by their parents.
  • With the influence of HO‘ÄLA staff members, two intervention schools were obligated SRTS project funding from the state, schools were identified as key areas in the pedestrian master plan, and one intervention school was slated for a bike plan priority project. As the SRTS programs are implemented in the next phase of the project, post-test data will be collected to ascertain if changes in active transportation rates occur.

Laura Dierenfield, B., D. A. Alexander, et al. (2011). "Hawaii’s Opportunity for Active Living Advancement (HO ‘ALA): Addressing Childhood Obesity through Safe Routes to School." HAWAII MEDICAL 70(7 Supplement 1):21.

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