The Importance of Backpacks

Teachers and Parents,

National School Backpack Awareness Day, sponsored by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is September 20, 2006. This special event is being held around the country to help educate children, parents, and communities about the proper use of school backpacks and the health risks of improper use. There is an increasing body of medical research suggesting that the amount of weight being carried by children in their backpacks is a growing national health concern. We hope this event will increase awareness and understanding of the issue.

To illustrate how heavy children’s backpacks are, and to call attention to the correct way to wear backpacks, try a “weigh-in” of a selected grade or a sample of students and their backpacks. I will be supervising the weighing at some of the independent charter schools and plan to report on the website what results were discovered at the “weigh-ins”. As you may already know, occupational therapy helps people improve their ability to do everyday tasks. Click on the About section for information on school-based occupational therapy. Occupational therapists work with children in every school district of the United States, in pediatric hospitals, and in other healthcare settings.

Child participation in the School Backpack Awareness Day event depends on parental permission. As an organizer, I will be handing out and collecting signed parental permission letters at my schools. If you are interested in more information about correctly packing, wearing and making sure that the backpack is 15% of a student’s weight or below, go to the Links section on this website. The articles in the Links section contain interesting facts and strategies to help students prevent back injuries. You will also be getting familiar with the American Occupational Therapy Association’s website which is a great resource. Hint: If you visit AOTA, go to Consumer Tip Sheets to find even more helpful information.


Deb Buchanan MS, OTR

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