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RRDSB focusing on concussion education

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On Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, the Rainy River District School Board will recognize Rowan's Law Day to help raise awareness about concussion safety.

Rowan's Law was named for Rowan Stringer, a high school rugby player from Ottawa, who died in the spring of 2013 from a condition known as second impact syndrome (swelling of the brain caused by a subsequent injury that occurred before a previous injury healed).

Rowan is believed to have experienced three concussions over six days while playing rugby.

She had a concussion but didn't know her brain needed time to heal. Neither did her parents, teachers or coaches.

In March of 2018, the Ontario government passed a law known as Rowan's Law.

Designed to protect amateur athletes, including students, and to educate parents/guardians, coaches, teachers, and officials about the dangers of concussions.

It is the first law of its kind in Canada and benefits both athletes and non-athletes.

Rowan's Law and Rowan's Law Day were established to honour her memory and bring awareness to concussions and concussion safety.

“We just really want to make our staff and students aware of the dangers of concussions,” said Donna Kowalski, principal of Sturgeon Creek School and Nestor Falls School.

“These types of injuries are not limited to people who play sports—everyone is at risk. Rowan's Law Day is an opportunity to educate and engage students in a discussion about concussions,” she added.

Kowalski plans to visit each classroom to talk to students about the signs of concussions, such as headaches, dizziness, light and sound sensitivity.

She added by going to each classroom, instead of having a whole school presentation, she can adjust her message to the different grade levels.

“If a student bumps their head, we want them to tell a staff member and to be aware of the symptoms,” Kowalski noted.

At Donald Young School, special announcements about concussion safety will be provided at the start of the day on Sept. 25. In addition, Amy Cunningham from the Northwestern Health Unit will share a concussion presentation with students in Grades 5-8.

The Rainy River District School Board has many resources on concussions for staff, students, and parents/guardians, including a Concussion Code of Conduct and a concussion protocol to follow if a concussion is suspected.

Rowan's Law Day is a day to learn about this type of injury, so students, staff, and parents are better able to recognize and respond to suspected concussions.

It is important for those who experience concussions to speak up, get the help they need, and take the time necessary for recovery, with the support of everyone around them.

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