6 Ways to Promote Safe Backpack Use

By Katie Riley posted 09-06-2019 12:07


AOTA’s National School Backpack Awareness Day is fast-approaching: Wednesday, September 18. On this day and throughout September, students across the U.S. and around the world will participate in a variety of activities to learn about safe backpack use. Are you considering promoting tips for students to avoid pain from carrying heavy loads? Here are some ways to join this year’s campaign:dinosaur.png

  1. Distribute information about safe backpack use. “Did you know that AOTA recommends that backpacks weigh no more than 10% of the student’s body weight?” This is a great opening line if you’re approaching people at a community event, or manning a table of materials at a community center or school. You can man a table for a few hours and hand out resources, giveaways, and more. Bulletin boards are great as well if you don’t have the time to commit to manning a table. You can download and print AOTA’s free Backpack Day handouts here. You do not need our permission as long as you’re distributing them as-is, not altering the logo, and not pretending that the information is yours. Infographics, charts, pictures, and more can also be used for Power Point presentations. Many items are available in both printer-friendly and digital versions so that you can print for posters or share electronically.
  2. Work with a school to host an assembly. You can talk to kids at a school about the hazards of carrying a backpack that is too heavy. Additionally, students at Boston University are currently working hard to finalize a script for a short skit that young children will enjoy. This will be available for use in the coming weeks.
  3. Host a weigh-in event. Check with a local school, grab a few scales and printouts of AOTA’s backpack weigh-in sheet, and hold a backpack weigh-in event. (Note: Be sure to have a sensitive scale that can measure small weights. A digital bathroom scale will not always work on light bags.) Be sure to let participants know that their bag should weigh no more than 10% of their body weight and share tips for packing and wearing a backpack with all students.
  4. Speak to the PTA. School PTAs and PTOs are always looking for ways to show their commitment to students. Encourage your PTA to support students’ health by allowing you to speak at a meeting or include a few paragraphs in a school newsletter. If your PTA is looking for an activity for families, suggest a coloring contest. Download the OT Rex Junior Coloring page here.
  5. Talk to your local media. A weigh-in event has all the elements of a great news story. With your venue’s permission, invite your local media to cover your event. You can call the outlet, or share this news advisory. Not hosting an event? Offer yourself as an interview subject, or write a letter to the editor about the hazards of heavy backpack use.
  6. Share AOTA’s tips for safe backpack use on social media. Throughout September (and especially on September 18) we will share tips for packing and wearing a backpack with the hashtag #backpacksafety on Twitter and Instagram. Here are a few sample messages that you are welcome to copy and share:
    • Today is @AOTAInc’s National School Backpack Safety Awareness Day. Check out aota.org/backpack for tips on preventing neck and back pain for your student. #BackpackSafety
    • Do you know how much your child’s backpack weighs? If it’s more than 10% of their body weight, it’s too heavy. Check out @AOTAInc’s tips for lightening the load. http://ow.ly/Ammd50vZsXs #BackpackSafety
    • #BackpackSafety Awareness Day tip: Load heaviest items to the child’s back and balance materials so the child can easily stand up straight. Find more tips for selecting and wearing a backpack here: http://ow.ly/yJ1z50vZt0c
    • For more possibilities, search #BackpackSafety and retweet other posts.

For more handouts, artwork, and inspiration for backpack day events, visit www.aota.org/backpack and click on the “Backpack Day Handouts, Artwork, and Video” section.

For more information about Backpack Day, visit www.aota.org/backpack or email me at kriley@aota.org.



08-27-2020 11:19

I am an OTA student at WSCC. We are have been brainstorming ideas to host a  backpack awareness day to be held on campus. Due to Covid-19 I am not sure how we will end up sorting all the logics out, but this post gave me some great ideas to share with my classmates. You had suggested talking to the local media and I think that is a great way to get the message out there. Using social media platforms is one of the best ways to reach people right now during these strange Covid-19 times. Thanks for sharing these great tips!

01-10-2020 20:17

I think this is such a clever blog post. I never knew AOTA had a Backpack Safety Day. I am currently an OTS, however, I am also a COTA in a school setting and I cannot tell you how important it is for teachers and school administrators to read this. Today, kids are expected to complete hours of homework from multiple classes, bringing home massive text books, notebooks, binders, etc. There is a lot of pressure on teachers to give homework, whether it be from administration to follow curriculum or from the parents. I am going to share this post to my school in hopes they take this matter and the kids health seriously.

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