Second Annual Backpack Free Friday

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The greatest burdens in life are not those we know, they are those we ignore, those we accept as “normal”. How tragic that human beings in any country need look no further than their children to find the greatest suffering.

Parenting 2.0’s International Backpack Free Friday’s public awareness campaign invites adults everywhere to stop and take a fresh look at children’s foundational health – their mandatory curriculum.  Are they well-rested? Hydrated? Fed? What is their stress level? How heavy is their backpack?

An August 2008 article stated that the AAOC (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery) says a child shouldn’t carry a backpack that exceeds 15%-20% of their body weight.”  It further shared that “A reasonable recommendation is a 10% cutoff weight for bodyweight. This will help reduce the risk of injury related to falls and relieve pain that comes from wearing giant backpacks loaded with school supplies.” With 10% as the more conservative target, here’s a breakdown by body weight for measuring how much your child should be lugging around in his backpack:

Child’s Weight Backpack Weight

50 pounds         5 pounds

75 pounds          7.5 pounds

100 pounds         10 pounds

125 pounds         12.5 pounds

150 pounds         15 pounds

Backpacks, however, are merely the tip of the iceburg – the problem we can see. During classtime – and yes permit me to acknowledge we are speaking about the “fortunate” children on the planet if they are in classrooms – backpacks are typically on the backs of chairs or in lockers. This is when children’s greater suffering continues – suffering that stems from being dehydrated, tired, emotionally stressed and hungry. While initially less obvious, all of these are well-documented to negatively impact every aspect of human functioning.

In my prior role as director of an academic tutoring club, I was shocked at the condition of children arriving for paid tutoring sessions – many parents took better care of their cars.

Where are our priorities? When will we focus attention on children’s readiness to learn rather than simply what they are learning? 

Students who falter in school are more likely to embrace lives of crime and end up incarcerated. With incarceration considerably more expensive than school, isn’t it worth every adult taking a broad lens to means for improving children’s odds of educational success?

As the mother of two (now adult) daughters I know well the demands facing those on the front lines raising humanity. Be they parents or teachers, the fact is, they’re busy. Criticsm and complaints don’t inspire human beings to higher performance, they hinder it. Parenting 2.o is committed to lifting the burdens off children and schools by sharing the concept of Life Skills Report Cards year round and supporting adults performing the most important job on earth. Backpack Free Friday is the day we draw broader public attention to our activism and link arms to be the Change the World awaits. Thank you for joining us by sharing news of Backpack Free Friday forward. 

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