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New project for active school transports

Published: 30 January 2017

The pilot project Active school transportation was a success. Now it is followed up with the three-year project The road to success - Active school transportation. The project, based on gamification and empowerment, will be expanded and involve several schools in Luleå municipality.

– We are very pleased with the results from the pilot project in which we found that the children were not only physically active, but with the connection to gamification they learned a lot too. An unexpected finding was that children who not usually arrive to school on time, now was in time. And when the school day began, they were all ready because the on their way to school they had moved and talked to their friends, says Anna-Karin Lindqvist, researcher in Physiotherapy at Luleå University of Technology.

Promotes the learning

The pilot project Active school transportation was conducted during spring 2016 in Luleå municipality on Ormbergsskolan and involved parents, children and teachers in grade one. Active school transportation was combined with missions that were linked to the education plan, which meant that the children learned, for example about signs of spring and garbage disposal in a different way. One example was that the kids were collecting garbage on the way to school and then learned to sort garbage and discuss what can happen with animals and nature of the debris is left. In this way, the learning was promoted and the education enriched. The project also used empowerment, which meant that children, parents and teachers were involved and created parts of the project.

New friendships

The children walked or biked to school for a total of four weeks and for each kilometre they put a sticker on a board. As a total 45 children walked or cycled 1189 km. Another result of the project was that parents who at first were reluctant to let their children take an active role to the school increased their confidence in the children´s ability and changed attitudes.

– In order to meet the parents' concern the children was put together in small groups on the way to and from school and an unexpected result was that the children built new friendships. They felt that they had more friends after the project than before. Even the teachers confirmed that the psychosocial environment at school had improved, says Stina Rutberg, researchers in Physiotherapy at Luleå University of Technology.

New parts of the project

Also in the project The road to success - active school transport are gamification and empowerment two important building blocks. The project will use all the successful elements of the pilot project, but also integrate the results of a study they conduct on Pokemon Go, the game that managed to get many players more physically active.

– We will try to capture what is so exciting about Pokemon Go and understand what causes children to run their legs off for pretend monsters. We intend to transfer these factors to the active school transport to increase the motivation to walk and bike to school, says Anna-Karin Lindqvist.

– We will also look at factors such as confidence in their own ability and the ability to bite the bullet when is slightly uphill. The third is the child's cognitive ability. Physical activity affects children's problem-solving ability and concentration, that we know, but is it enough to walk or bike to school to get a rash on these parameters, or you have to work harder, says Stina Rutberg.

Project in collaboration

The three-year project will get a total of 3.4 million SEK, where 1.9 million SEK is funded by the Luleå municipality and other fundings come from the Children and Education management, Town Planning and the Department of Health Sciences and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources at Luleå University of Technology. Professor Darla Castelli, Texas University at Austin, particitate with her knowledge of gamification, children, physical activity and cognitive ability.

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