Hold Legislators and Policymakers Accountable! Limit school backpack weight to no more than 10% of a child's bodyweight.
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It is medically proven that children carrying more than 10% of their body weight is damaging to their spines. Just because you can’t see the internal damage, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!
How many of us have had to watch our children wear backpacks every day that are so heavy that they become torture instruments instead of helpful, as designed. Have you ever wondered what this is doing to my child’s health? As a Chiropractor and mother of 3 girls, I had to take action and start a grassroots effort. For over 8 years, I have talked and met with legislators (state and federal), agencies of all kinds, child advocate groups, state school boards, PTA/PTO groups and even connected with other grassroots organizations globally with this same Mission. Here is some of the research I have shared with them:
1. WHO, NIH and many other prominent health research programs across the globe recently released their findings in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Project, which listed musculoskeletal issues (meaning back pain) as the second leading cause of disability worldwide!
2. The "Spain" study, which was released April 2012, was listed in the Archives of Childhood Diseases. This study showed that many teens carry school backpacks that exceed 10 percent to 15 percent of their body weight, which puts them at risk for back pain and related disorders (scoliosis).
3. The 2010 MRI study was the first of its kind and was done by an Orthopedist. It showed damage to the spine, mainly in scoliosis, herniated discs and decreased vertebral disc height, significantly advanced as backpack weight was incrementally increased.
4. Research and studies dating back to the early 1990’s show significant damaging changes in posture, blood flow, head carriage and gait in addition to increased pain.
5. For every 1 inch the head is carried in front of the spine (anterior head carriage), the head weighs 10 more pounds. Studies have shown significant changes in anterior head carriage with heavy backpacks.
6. School age children’s spines are still growing and substantial changes at this point in their growth could cause irreparable damage.
7. If our children are focusing on pain, they are not able to focus on their school work and learning.
8. The Philippine Pediatric Society has a position paper outlining how their Government, Medical Associations, School Administrators, Media and Parents/Caregivers should all work together to address the issue of heavy backpacks.
9. From a Chiropractor’s point of view, any change in the environment of the nervous system, whether through tightening of the muscles, vascular changes or spinal deviations from the norm, can cause short and long term effects for the health of an individual.
10. Most of these findings are PREVENTABLE, if caught early!!
Regardless of how much evidence based research is presented, there is still resistance to acknowledging an issue that warrants change by our governments, state and federal. Our children have no voice in this matter, yet it is their bodies, lives and future expressions that are being altered. OSHA has strict laws and fines for employers regarding acceptable weights of what can be lifted. We have nothing like that for our kids, who in some circumstances, are carrying around 20-30% of their body weight! 10% of their body weight is the acceptable norm. OSHA considers our children "guests" of the school and ignores requests to expand their regulations to cover our children.
So this prompts these questions that we as parents, caregivers, educators, legislators or concerned individuals have to ask ourselves. Ignoring them clearly states what you have chosen.
§ Why do health and safety regulations protect adults but not our children especially when back pain costs the government and us?
§ How much proof do we need before we see change is needed?
§ Shouldn’t we be teaching our children that life is about choices and that they are power-FULL, which includes being able to speak up?
Empower our children. Speak up! If you have noticed that there is an issue with heavy backpacks and have been concerned with the effects on children’s health, this is your chance to be heard. Let our children be children, not stressed, tired, burdened and feeling older before their time. Help us be signing our petition to bring change and a voice for powerful, healthy children!
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