The American Occupational Therapy Association has declared 19 September 2007 as National School Backpack Awareness Day. Their theme is “Pack It Light, Wear It Right!”
This awareness campaign was created to educate children, parents, teachers, and communities about the serious health problems children may have from backpacks that are too heavy or worn improperly.
What’s the fuss about wearing backpacks? Here’s the lowdown on several studies made on the effects of improper wearing of backpacks:
More than 40 million children in the United States carry school backpacks, and more than half of them may be carrying too much weight. Children carrying overloaded backpacks and improperly worn packs, according to U.S. and international studies, are likely to experience neck, shoulder, and back pain; adverse effects on posture and the developing spine; and compromised breathing and fatigue. The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission estimates that more than 7,000 emergency room visits in 2001 resulted from injuries related to backpacks and book bags — half of those occurred among children between the ages of five and 14, the ages of elementary and middle-school students. The growing awareness of potential long-term problems to children has resulted in increased medical research and proposed legislation in at least two states to address the issue of backpack weight in relation to student health.
* Download a printable version of this here.
So what’s the proper way of loading and wearing backpacks?
- Backpacks should weigh no more than 15% of body weight (15-pound pack on a 100-pound child);
- Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back;
- Wear both shoulder straps for an evenly balanced load;
- Adjust shoulder and waist straps to distribute the burden more evenly along the child’s back; and
- Suggest that teachers consider the total weight of each day’s assigned class work — not only in content, but also in terms of textbook weight.
* Download a printable copy of this here.
Read more of this awareness campaign here.