Event Ideas: Kindergarden to Grade 12
The American Occupational Therapy Association’s National School Backpack Awareness Day™ is an annual nationwide event taking place the third Wednesday of each September.
Through activities such as weigh-ins and ergonomics workshops, students, parents, educators, schools, and communities are empowered to make positive choices and encouraged to recognize the relationship between their actions and their health. The day of activities highlights a range of benefits offered by occupational therapy practitioners and services. Below are some ideas for promoting Backpack Awareness Day to students from kindergarden through grade 12.
Remember: A backpack should not exceed 10% of a child’s weight.
Core message: Develop good routines for using backpacks and begin taking responsibility for your backpack belongings.
- Communicate simple rules for wearing backpacks: Wear two straps, wear close to the back, and wear above your rear.
- Gather children for “circle time” and ask short questions to introduce backpack safety (e.g., “what do you put in your backpack?” “What does it feel like when the back pack is too heavy?”).
- Ask children to demonstrate correct versus incorrect postures with backpacks.
- Develop handouts using pictures with limited narration. Send more detailed information home to parents.
Use familiar characters in the presentation. Provide prizes to all for correct answers related to backpack awareness.
Core message: Wear backpacks correctly and understand the relationship between proper wearing and injury prevention.
- Use a skeleton model to offer a simple anatomical lesson on where the backpack should be placed on the body and body locations that can be injured by backpacks.
- Integrate academic skills by having students do word searches, or calculate scores for weigh-in.
Review concepts using a backpack true/false game and offer prizes for participation.
Core Message: Respect your body, create a positive body image, and make healthy choices for using backpacks correctly.
- Start with a pretest of students’ current backpack behaviors to promote self-reflection; review the test together to identify the range of behaviors among students.
Discuss appropriate backpack wearing strategies, emphasizing how the backpack should look on their bodies.
- Offer handouts of backpack facts about injury rates and statistics related to the causes of injury and body parts injured.
Present a post-quiz to see what information the students have retained and provide rewards.