Community Engagement at WSSU

Young People Learn Right Way to Pack Backpacks

Recently members of the RAM Student Occupational Therapy Association (RAMSOTA) in WSSU’s Department of Occupational Therapy partnered with Easton Elementary School in Forsyth County to provide backpack safety awareness to all fourth and fifth grade students. The partnership was part of a national school backpack safety campaign.

StretchingRAMSOTA members led students in activities that engaged them to learn about backpack safety through hands-on stations focusing on education, relay races, and yoga/ stretching exercises.

Promoting backpack safety is essential in today’s society. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), more than 79 million children and young adults in the U.S. carry heavy loads back and forth to school every day. Experts estimate that about 55 percent of them will be carrying too much weight. Research also shows children carrying overloaded and improperly worn packs are likely to experience neck, shoulder, and back pain; adverse effects on posture and the developing spine; and compromised breathing and fatigue. Some of these injuries continue into adulthood.

AOTA recommends that school backpacks weigh only 10 percent of a child’s weight. The growing awareness of potential long-term problems to children has resulted in increased medical research, and more coverage of the issue in mainstream publications as well as medical journals. As part of this national initiative, the OT graduate students reached approximately 175 children for training on backpack safety.

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