WALLINGFORD — Second-graders at Stevens School learned backpack safety on Tuesday with the help of occupational therapy students from Quinnipiac University.
The program is now in its fifth year and includes advice on what children shouldn’t carry in their backpacks and how to wear the backpack safely, said Maria Marcarelli, a second-grade teacher at Stevens. Marcarelli said she has had a relationship with the Quinnipiac University occupational therapy program for 15 years and the events began with bicycle safety and helmet fittings. Marcarelli said the program expanded to include the backpack event, and is mutually beneficial to both sets of students.
“The kids love it,” Marcarelli said of the second-graders. “It allows the (Quinnipiac) students to get exposure and hands-on experience.”
The children went through three stations, all supervised by the college students. One station showed the children items they should or should not be carrying in their backpacks. They were advised that items such as toys should be left at home. Alex Zandri, 7, said he always carries a phone in his backpack for emergencies. Amina Mekic, 8, and Andrew Breaux, 7, both said they carry their homework folders and assignments in their backpacks.
At another station, students were weighed with and without their backpacks. The Quinnipiac students calculated the weight of the backpacks as a percentage of the children’s body weights.
Jade Ross, a junior occupational therapy major from Massachusetts, said ideally the backpacks should not weigh more than 10 percent of the child’s weight. Marcy Sanders, an occupational therapy professor at Quinnipiac, said that when the backpacks get above that threshold it can cause the students to have bad posture or hold the backpack in a way that may lead to problems.
Sanders said the children are very receptive to the information and she enjoys seeing the two age groups interacting for a positive event.
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