Grimsby Secondary School students proudly wore the color purple Friday in support of Rowan’s Law.
Many students at the school chose to wear purple today to observe Rowan’s legacy and its contribution to concussion awareness, said the school’s principal Mat Miller.
Rowan’s Law is Ontario legislation that requires concussion education for coaches, athletes, and medical practitioners. It was passed in 2013 as a result of the death of Rowan Stringer, a female high school athlete from Ottawa, who died after receiving three blows to the head in the course of one week in 2013.
She showed only mild symptoms of headache following the first two impacts, but lost consciousness and never regained it following the third. Medical examiners found that a condition, called second-impact syndrome, was the cause of her death.
A coroner’s inquest into Stringer’s death resulted in 49 recommendations be implemented in an effort to prevent another tragedy due to concussions. Rowan’s Law was passed unanimously at the Ontario Legislature on June 7, 2016. It was a private members bill put forth by Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod (Napean-Carleton) along with Gord and Kathleen Stringer, Rowan’s parents.
“Being in education for 20 plus years, you get to see a lot of students involved in contact sports, and being able to have them do that in safe ways that will allow that to continue into future is important,” Miller told Niagara Info.
“We want to be sure they are doing it in a safe way and know how to deal with a concussion,” he added.
He said a Rowan’s Law resource pack, provided by the provincial government, is used ongoingly to educate students on the dangers of concussions and is part of the health and physical education curriculum offered by schools like Grimsby Secondary School at the District School Board of Niagara.
Rowan’s Law is also very special to the DSBN schools, he explained, because DSBN Director of Education Warren Hoshizaki served as a member of Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee, which was established to review the coroner’s inquest recommendations following Stringer’s death.
Hoshizaki said at the time it was significant that all directors of education in Ontario had given the bill their “full support and endorsement.”
Hoshizaki said the law standardizes important practices related to the prevention and management of concussions, and provide schools with more tools to support students. It also mandates increased concussion education for students, teachers, and coaches.
“Education has a huge role to play in changing the culture around concussions,” said Hoshizaki in 2018. “With additional education, students will be more aware of their safety when playing, and more likely to report an injury when it occurs.”
The DSBN said it has been on the forefront of tackling the issue of concussions since 2014, when the Board first passed its concussion policy. The policy led to the development of education programs for students, staff, and coaches, return to learn and return to play protocols for injured students, and information to support parents.