ACC-OC OTA Students Visit Anaheim School for Backpack Awareness Day


Most people don’t think of a backpack as being unsafe, but when you consider the dangers it can cause to your back when used improperly, it is actually a commonly ignored pain point.
Volunteers from the American Career College-Orange County Student Occupational Therapy Assistant (SOTA) club visited the GOALS Academy in Anaheim this September to inform them of the importance of backpack safety.

SOTA members visited eight classrooms of students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade, and communicated three main areas of backpack safety awareness: weight, fit and lift.

"It's really important for children to be educated on proper fits early on because you don't want them wearing their backpack incorrectly, year after year, and creating health problems for themselves as they get older," ACC-OC OTA interim program director Jeni Dulek said.

To show the students just how heavy their backpacks were, the SOTA teams weighed the students with and without their backpacks to determine if their backpack was less than 10 percent of their body weight. After the scale test, each student was given a certificate that said “My Backpack Weighs” and a check box denoting whether or not it was a “safe” weight for their stature.

The OTA students also demonstrated the different ways backpacks can fit on a body and which approach would cause the least amount of stress on the back muscles. In most cases, the healthiest way to wear a backpack is to have the straps pulled tight so that the pack is snug against the body.

The young students also learned to squat down and lift their backpacks with their leg muscles, instead of bending over at the waist and torqueing their back muscles. A few students even offered to go up to the front of the class to show proper lifting technique.

"I always enjoy seeing our students getting out into the community to help," Dulek said, "but it's especially good to see them help educate children and make sure they don't wind up missing school because their backpack is too heavy."

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