Backpack Awareness Day teaches kids and parents how to safely wear a backpack

Posted at 1:11 PM, Sep 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-20 13:11:32-04

Backpack Awareness Day is the third Wednesday of September every year, and it was founded to shine a spotlight on proper backpack wearing techniques.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, more than 79 million students across the U.S. carry heavy loads that cause lower back pain into adulthood.

"I can't say any children have come here for pain from a backpack but I wonder why not," Rodgers Forge Elementary nurse and grandmother Gail Shapira said.

Shapira has worked at the school for 14 years and says she sees the daily struggle kids go through.

"They look so weighed down, and I'll pick up their backpack and I swear it seems almost heavier than they are," Shapira said.

According to AOTA, backpacks should only weigh about 10 percent of the student's body weight. When you load a backpack, be sure the heaviest items are in the main portion of the backpack closest to the back of the student.

Weight should be evenly distributed throughout the left and right side of the backpack to prevent strain on the student's shoulders.

Then when you put the backpack on, bend and lift using your knees, not your back, and keep the backpack no higher than your shoulders and no lower than your hips.

Another option is roller backpacks, to keep the weight off the student's back entirely. Shapira noticed a few students utilize these bags, but not many.

"Now so many of the middle schoolers and high schoolers are transporting their laptop devices to school and that adds considerable weight as well," Shapira said.

It's another thing parents have to worry about as technology takes a bigger role in schools.