Heavyweight

Parliament proposes measures against heavy schoolbags.

While the Government is struggling with the aftermath of the most brutal wildfires in history – killing more than 100 people – political parties in Parliament made recommendations last week to reduce the weight of school bags, after a petition on that matter – initiated by actor JoséWallenstein – had yielded more than 50.000 public signatures in February.

According to the Consumer Defence Association (DECO), two-thirds of the Portuguese schoolchildren carry backpacks, that are too heavy.

But does that matter?

Apparently, as studies from several countries indicate that children carrying backpacks exceeding 10% of their bodyweight – the upper limit according to the World Health Organization – are more likely to get neck, shoulder and back pain. There is, however, no evidence that carrying heavy bags cause any lasting deformity such as scoliosis, which is a persistent curvature of the spine.

The propositions on schoolbags had been prepared for some months by a special parliamentary working group – coordinated by Amadeu Albergaria of the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

The final resolution – supported by all parties – recommends more lockers in schools, expansion of digital learning tools in class, thinner manuals and books with lightweight paper, permanent instead of variable classrooms and better collaboration between teachers regarding the frequency and amount of homework.

The parliamentarians moreover, propose a national awareness campaign to better monitor the weight of schoolbags by teachers, parents and students and the Directorate-General for Health will be asked to perform a study on the effect of the weight of the schoolbags on children’s health.

Backpacks are best for backs because they have two shoulder straps – a bag carried on one shoulder is more likely to cause pain. The bags should be packed evenly and carry only what is needed for that day. Children should be encouraged to use school lockers for items they don’t need all day.

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                                                                 (photo’s Observador/Sapo)

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