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Backpack shopping trip can be a challenge

Dawn Cwierley came armed with advice from physical therapist and co-worker Joseph Baumgarden when she went backpack shopping for her daughter, Jessica, earlier this week.

Cwierley, public relations manager at Kenmore Mercy Hospital, bought a JanSport, which normally costs $50, on sale and with a coupon for $35 at Office Depot.

“That particular brand has a lifetime warranty,” she said. “Since Jessica is 6, that will be great moving forward.”

The shopping trip with her daughter had its moments.

“Of course, she begged and pleaded with me to get a ‘Frozen’ or princess backpack,” Cwierley said. “Those did, in fact, have thin straps and no padding at all. I also found that because she is still small, pulling the straps tight on most brands of backpacks was difficult. To pull them all the way, the straps dragged below her knees.”

Jessica will start first grade early next month at Willow Ridge Elementary School in the Sweet Home district and also is in an Amherst after-school program. Since she got her first backpack in kindergarten, her mother has encouraged her to always wear it with both straps over her shoulders, pulled tightly. They’ve packed it together for day camps this summer, to help prepare for the new school year.

“I reiterate that she needs to unpack her bag each night and take out items that she doesn’t need in it,” Cwierley said. “It can easily get full of glittery art projects, changes of clothes and homework, making it bulkier. I also try to be sure that she has school supplies at home so she doesn’t need to bring things like scissors, crayons, pencils, etc ... home to work on projects. This helps to lighten the load significantly.”

Baumgarden, manager of AthletiCare, said these daily choices limit the long-term, backpack-related strains that bring school-aged kids into his Town of Tonawanda rehab center. Saving a few bucks on an inferior backpack, he said, isn’t worth the co-pays and other medical expenses.

– Scott Scanlon

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