Does your child or students complain about the weight of their backpacks? Did you know it is important for students and children to wear their backpacks correctly?
When purchasing a backpack make sure the shoulder straps have padding and look for a backpack that has a hip or chest belt/buckle. Have your child try on the backpack to make sure it fits!
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, backpack-related injuries send an estimated 5,000 children a year to emergency rooms. More than 14,000 children are treated annually for injuries. (2;2013)
A study of grade school students showed 55% of students carry loads greater than 10 percent of their body weight. Based on a study of middle school students; 80% had less pain and body strain when they changed how they loaded and wore their backpacks. (3; 2017)
When loading a backpack, pack the backpack with the heaviest items closest to the child’s back and the lighter items in the front of the backpack. The backpack should only weigh 10% of a child’s body weight, if your child weights 75 pounds, the backpack should weight less than 7 ½ pounds. (1; AOTA)
Have your child pick up their backpack to put it on by bending and lifting at the knees instead of the waist.
When wearing the backpack, use both straps to make sure the weight is distributed evenly. Adjust the straps so the backpack fits snugly on the child’s back with the bottom of the backpack resting in the curve in the child’s back. Secure the hip and or chest belt.
Join The American Occupational Therapy Association and occupational therapists in celebrating Backpack Awareness Day, Wednesday, September 18, 2019.
Ways to celebrate Backpack Awareness Day at your school:
Plan a weigh in at your school! Check out https://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/Backpack-Safety-Awareness-Day/StrategiesForEvent.aspx for more details.
You could also weigh your student’s backpacks during a smaller session or within the classroom, and have the students record their weight and the backpack weight here: https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/Backpack/Backpack-Weigh-Sheet.pdf
Have your students color this backpack themed coloring page: https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/Backpack/OT-Rex-Jr-Color-Me-Page.pdf
Hand out fliers to teachers, staff and/or parents about loading and wearing the backpack properly: https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/Backpack/Backpack%20Strategies%20for%20Parents%20%20Students.pdf
As well as the 1, 2, 3’s of basic backpack wearing: https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/Backpack/meet-your-backpack-8-2014.pdf
Author: Holly Houghton, MSOTR/L