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Take a load off your backpack in September

When: Sept. 19

What: September typically means back-to-school time. Children load up their backpacks with notebooks, binders and every school supply under the sun. They also come home with additional textbooks and workbooks, adding the pounds on to their shoulders. This September, be aware of your child’s daily burden during National School Backpack Awareness Day, celebrated every third Wednesday in September.

Background: Sponsored by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), National School Backpack Awareness Day focuses on ergonomics, which is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the population. According to AOTA, a child’s backpack should only weigh 10 percent of his or her body weight. This means a child weighing in at 100 pounds should only be carrying a 10-pound backpack. Textbooks and school supplies can get heavy for a child, which can in turn affect posture. Be sure to study up on proper backpack safety and how to help your child lighten the load.

Story Pitch: There are a variety of groups and organizations that can help to promote backpack safety during back-to-school time. Teachers can encourage students to carry books if their bags become too full. They may also suggest proper backpack usage, noting the correct placement of backpack straps and waist straps. School nurses may discuss how to wear a backpack correctly with students, as well as providing additional materials for parents on how to properly carry a backpack. They might also want to show students the most effective way to store their books, stacking from largest to smallest. Meanwhile, backpack manufacturers are able to run promotional campaigns surrounding backpack safety and proper use. Retailers can get in on this month by promoting backpacks better suited for heavy loads.

Story Hook:  According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, improperly used backpacks can cause severe neck, back and shoulder pain as well as poor posture. Consider the following when making your pitch:

  • What is the proper way to safely carry a backpack?
  • How can a child distribute weight in their pack to make it easier to carry?
  • What safety features should a good backpack have?
  • Are there other alternatives to the standard backpack?

Tips: A doctor who frequently deals with back and neck pain can discuss proper care and prevention regarding backpack safety. In addition, parents of children who often have heavy backpacks could provide some insight on how to lessen the load.

Resources:

American Academy of Pediatrics
(847) 434-4000
www.aap.org

American Chiropractic Association
(703) 276-8800
www.acatoday.org

American Occupational Therapy Association
(301) 652-2682
www.aota.org

North American Spine Society
(630) 230-3600
www.spine.org

–Researched, compiled & written by Kimberly Cooper
Event Dates  from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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