Program Evaluation of the Major Taylor Project: A Youth Development & Bicycling Program
Pullar, Kelsey M.
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Background: There are significant benefits from regular physical activity for youth, including gains in physical health, mental and emotional health, and academic achievement. However, many children experience declines in physical activity before entering adolescence. Attributable factors may include a reduction in physical education classes offered, particularly in low-socioeconomic status school districts, and a reduced proportion of students walking or biking to school. Youth bicycling programs offer an opportunity for physical activity, goal setting, and skill building, but lack evaluations of their effectiveness. The goal was to conduct a program evaluation of the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Major Taylor Project (MTP), a year-round youth development and bicycling program. Methods: This program evaluation assessed the 2014 fall season of the MTP. A 32-item pre- and post- survey including attitudes toward bicycling, self-confidence, and previously validated measures of physical activity was administered to fall season participants in 5 high schools 7 weeks apart. The primary outcome of interest for the assessment was minutes of physical activity achieved per week. Secondary outcomes included proportion of students achieving CDC-recommended levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity, and proportion of students biking to school. Descriptive statistics, x2, and t-tests were used to assess changes between pre- and post-fall season activity levels, attitudes and behavior. Interviews were also conducted with four MTP graduates and one current participant. Results: In Fall 2014, 49 high school students were surveyed at week 2 of the program. Overall, 27 participants completed both the pre- and 7-week post-surveys for a follow-up rate of 55%. Mean participant age at time of pre-test was 15, 63% of participants were male, 18% were taking a PE class, and the mean duration of participation in MTP was 0.7 years. Mean minutes of total weekly physical activity was 265.7 at baseline and 224.9 post-program (p=0.69). The proportion of students meeting CDC recommendations for physical activity remained 18.5%. At time of pre-test and at post-test, 23% of students biked to school. Participants’ mean weekly minutes of bicycling outside MTP increased from 18.4 to 30.7 between pre- and post-surveys (p=0.039). Some measures of bicycling confidence also increased significantly. Conclusions: The MTP shows promise as a program that may increase bicycling activity and confidence levels among underserved youth. Future evaluations of bicycling youth development programs are needed to further illuminate potential benefits including road safety knowledge and self-confidence. Incorporating strategies for improving retention rate would also be beneficial for delivering and evaluating similar youth programming.
- Health services