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Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

CSU Occupational Therapy Students Teach Backpack Safety

Oct. 5, 2018 -- Heavy backpacks, slung over one shoulder, weighted down with binders and library books... they’re a daily frustration for students across the country - and a source of major back problems. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries every year. 

But Roxboro Elementary School’s 5th graders are now better equipped to handle the problem. Last week, on National Backpack Awareness Day, five occupational therapy students from Cleveland State University’s Student Occupational Therapy Association met with each of Rox El’s three 5th grade classes to explain the danger of carrying a too-heavy backpack. The presentations were arranged by district occupational therapist and CSU adjunct professor Cindy Rakow.

Students had the chance to weigh themselves and then weigh their backpacks, after filling them as they would to leave school. Backpacks should weigh no more than ten percent of a child’s body weight. The lesson involved a little math to determine whose backpacks were the appropriate weight and whose were not.

Fortunately, most of the backpacks weighed a safe amount, but a few students guiltily raised their hands to indicate that theirs weighed over the limit. “It’s okay,” said the CSU student in front of the room. “You’re not going to be punished.”

“Actually, yes, you are!” one girl interrupted. “Your back will be punished!”

CSU’s students hope this isn't the case, as they’ve taught the elementary children how to properly and safely fill and wear what will be their constant companions for many years to come: their backpacks.
 
Cindy Rakow and student weighing backpack
 
Student on scale
 
Student at desk with college student doing calculations nearby
Two college students showing two elementary students their backpack weight 

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