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How to reduce the weight of school bags

Elson Elizaga

I HAVE two kids in grade school and they used to bring trolley bags weighing seven kilos each. But I found a way to cut the load by half.

Before I describe the technique, let me state that for three years my wife and I did not see any problem at all with the weight because the wheels of the trolley bags made the load seem light.

But in 2015, our eldest child moved to grade three, and his classroom was on the second floor of the school. To reach the room, he had to pull his monstrous trolley bag loaded with textbooks, notebooks and a bottle of water up two flights of stairs.

I decided my son must stop suffering from this ordeal. So, I lifted the trolley bag for him every day.

Eventually, I came up with an idea. I went to Mindanao Editorial and Printing Services (MEPS) and asked the manager to split the textbooks. If a textbook contained 200 pages, I had it split somewhere in the middle. The middle did not have to be between pages 100 and 101, but between two chapters.

I also split the thick notebooks at home by detaching half of the pages, and reassembling the remaining pages using a long stapler. (The following year, I stopped splitting notebooks and bought 80-page notebooks instead because they were light.)

What was the result? The textbook weight, originally two kilos, was reduced to one. The one-kilo notebooks are now half. Now my kids don’t need the heavy trolley bags. They’re using small, light backpacks made by Simon Designs. Fully loaded with school materials, including a bottle of water, each backpack now weighs only two kilos.

What a relief. I used to lift the trolley bags and put them inside the car, drive the kids to school, open the back door of the car, lift the trolley bags again, tell the kids to pull them to their classroom before I carry one bag to the second floor. But now the kids bring the backpacks themselves. No more trolley bags. They get in and out of the car and run to their classrooms without my help.

There was a small problem, though, during the splitting of the textbooks. The first half became deprived of a back cover and the second half lacked a front cover. But this condition was easily solved. The printing press simply had the original cover photocopied in black-and-white. (See more of this issue in http://tinyurl.com/yaucj9wf.)

Later I realized another benefit from splitting the textbooks. Usually, an entire textbook go through wear-and-tear because of regular use. But if it is split, only the first part, the one used in school, initially degrades. The second remains new because it is kept in a locker at home, until our kids need them.

My only concern is that, as a friend said, I might be accused of copyright infringement because I have photocopied the covers. I hope the publishers will use the idea instead, and produce split volumes. I also hope the secretary of the Department of Education, Leonor Magtolis Briones, finds this article, and consider requiring publishers to split their textbooks.

Why am I concerned about the weight of school bags? Because years ago, I had a slipped disc and couldn’t walk for a month, and because pediatricians and chiropractors in the US “recommended that students not carry more than fifteen percent of their body weight in a backpack, or risk negative health impacts.”

Some doctors even say not more than 10 percent.

Today, I have my books split in Nafe Coop Printing Press in Bulua, Cagayan de Oro. The cost is P150 per book. Less if I give 10 books simultaneously. Someone told me this is expensive. But I’m thinking about my kids’ health and future. In the US, thousands of students seek treatment for bone and muscle injury caused by carrying heavy school bags. I’ve also received a report that a grade six student named Melanie developed spinal injury because of prolonged carrying of heavy school bag. She became bedridden in 2013. Melanie was a student of Pedro Oloy N. Roa Elementary School in barangay Calaanan, Cagayan de Oro.

E-mail: e.elizaga@gmail.com

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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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