Public Schools of
San Luis Obispo County

About the Packs

Who we are
Schools Insurance Program for Employees (SIPE) was established in 1977 as a public agency joint powers authority (JPA) that provides a self-insured workers’ compensation program and risk management services to the public school districts and a community college district in San Luis Obispo County, California.

The word SIPE on the backpack means Sensory Integration Pack Enhancement. We choose this for a couple of reasons. The first is that the pack is being used for reasons other than mobility and gait assistance which was our original intent for the backpack. The second is the fact that the Schools Insurance Program for Employees (SIPE) has provided all the support and funding to make this product possible for our member school districts to use in their classrooms.

BACKPACK with GrabGear®
The SIPE backpack is equipped with multiple stabilizing handles in key locations to provide a firm grip in those situations where additional controlor support of the child is important.


The Schools Insurance Program for Employees was granted a patent by the USPTO for our specialized backpack on October 3, 2017. The patent abstract states: Disclosed is a backpack having a plurality of stabilizing handles. The handles are of fixed dimension and are distributed around the outside of the main compartment of the backpack to provide a number of places for a caregiver to grip when assisting a wearer of the backpack walk.

A rear side of the main compartment may have four handles, a front side of the backpack may have 6 handles, and side panels of the backpack may have 4 handles. A lead may optionally be attached to the D-ring on the rear side of the backpack. Providing numerous grip handles around the backpack enhances the ability of the caregiver to provide spotting support, without stigmatizing the user from the use of a harness or other such assistive device.

Features and Benefits  — Towards independence
The SIPE special education backpack was designed with two thoughts in mind: to help children with special needs towards independence and prevent injuries to teachers and instructional assistants caring for these children.

The SIPE backpack is being used to help students with one or more of the following conditions or disabilities:
Teacher securing child with long handle on SIPE-pack

  • Autism Spectrum
  • Sensory processing/integration disorders
  • ADHD
  • Down Syndrome
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Elopement
  • Visual impairment
  • Gait, stabilization and mobility limitation

Some of the Features and Benefits
Model wearing SIPE-pack

  • Multiple stabilizing handles located in key locations allow for redirecting, transitioning, and mobility assistance
  • Top and rear handles provide a secure grip for walking along side students known to suddenly drop to the ground thus preventing potential injuries
  • Unlike gait belts, the higher handle placement reduces the need to lean over while assisting a child promoting good ergonomics
  • Identification pocket is used to provide the individuals emergency contact information
  • Adjustable lead (18" – 28") allows children to progress from proximal to more distal control (further away from staff)
  • 3M™ reflective webbing for more visibility keeps children safer in poor or low light conditions
  • Padded waist belt keeps the pack secure and transfers some weight off of the shoulders making it more comfortable
  • Under arm security strap keeps the pack in place if the student being assisted suddenly drops
  • Two inner pockets hold weight bags inside the main compartment to distribute weight across the shoulders and back to help improve proprioceptive awareness and self-regulation.

Our pack is highly beneficial for some children with special needs allowing for more independence and helps them accomplish their daily educational goals. Wearing the pack may help integrate sensory information and thus promote increased concentration and organization, enabling them to focus on accomplishing important tasks.

These backpacks were designed and developed with the assistance of the special education programs in the Public Schools of San Luis Obispo County, California.

Originally created as part of a risk management strategy to prevent employee injuries, the packs are helping certain students with special needs and other disabilities. Visually, the pack is really not all that different from any other backpack you might see at a school site, but it includes special features to help occupational therapists, educators, and family members care for and enhance the lives of children with special needs.

Made in the USA
American flag The SIPE backpack was designed and is currently being manufactured in San Luis Obispo, CA by a local pattern maker. It is our desire to manufacture this product in the United States to support and promote local businesses and their communities.

SIPE-Pack brochure