In Williamsville, the U.S. Postal Service has loads of stamps just off the press considered too dangerous to sell. The problem: The stamps show headstands, skateboarding without kneepads, and jumping into a pool “cannonball” style.
A series of “Just Move” postage stamps designed to get kids to be more active has been put on hold after some of the activities depicted on them were deemed too dangerous by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
The stamps highlight the council’s “Let’s Move!” program, headed by first lady Michelle Obama to steer children into healthier, less sedentary lifestyles. They were supposed to be issued in May but were put on hold when the council raised concerns about the activities depicted on some of them.
Ashton Potter Security Printing, the Williamsville printer commissioned to make the stamps, is sitting on an entire press run of the Forever stamps while the United States Postal Service decides what to do with them.
The Postal Service said it is “continuing to develop plans regarding a fitness-themed stamp series” but won’t have more information until 2014.
The offending stamps cannot be easily edited or removed, since they are printed on a sheet with various other “Just Move” images.
A spokeswoman for the President’s Council said it never asked the Postal Service to recall or destroy the stamps and only gave feedback when it was told the designs of the already printed stamps weren’t final.
The feedback included suggestions about diversity, inclusion of people with disabilities and some concerns about safety.
Earlier reports that it suggested the person doing a headstand should be wearing a helmet were inaccurate, the council said.
“We suggested that they consider replacing the headstand entirely with an activity that would be more active and safe,” the council said in an email.
“Adding a helmet to the child in the headstand stamp never came up.”
Either way, it doesn’t sit well with critics such as Lenore Skenazy, a public speaker and author of “Free-Range Kids,” who believes today’s children are coddled and overprotected.
“To think of a scenario where a headstand is unsafe really takes a leap of imagination,” she said. “People have been doing them for as long as we’ve had heads on our shoulders.”
It’s just the latest instance of “worst first” thinking, where people dismiss any activity with the slightest amount of risk, fearing the worst possible scenario will happen, no matter how unlikely, she said. That mindset has kept parents from allowing their children to ride bicycles in their neighborhoods or play in playgrounds. Instead, they wind up playing video games in their rooms – exactly the type of activity the “Let’s Move!” initiative aims to curb.
“Do they want kids doing nothing? Because they’re suggesting almost all movement, aside from sitting in a chair and copying a lesson, is too dangerous to let kids do,” Skenazy said.
Ashton Potter on Wehrle Drive is holding the stamps under lock and key while the Postal Service decides what to do about them. The Postal Service declined to say how many stamps were printed, but said it generally costs about $90,000 to print 30 million stamps.
The controversy would likely make originals of the stamps in question very valuable to collectors. But since the stamps have never been issued, it would be almost impossible to obtain them legally.
“Collectors would love to get their hands on them,” said Lou Montessano of Lincoln Coin & Stamp Co. on West Tupper Street. “I would guarantee the printer has very tight security.”
Ashton Potter declined to comment.