Rowan Stringer loved rugby. A competitive and keen athlete, she was captain of her high school’s team. Tragically, in May 2013, 17-year-old Rowan died as the result of multiple head injuries she sustained while playing rugby. In the week before her last game, Rowan was hit twice while playing, likely sustaining a concussion after each blow. Her concussions went unreported, and she continued to play. Rowan suspected something wasn’t right—she texted a friend about her condition and used Google to search for information about concussions. When she was hit again in her final game, Rowan suffered what is known as Second Impact Syndrome—catastrophic swelling caused by a second injury to a brain still healing from previous trauma. Rowan collapsed on the field on May 8, 2013 and died four days later.

Rowan’s Law, which came into effect in March of 2018, makes it mandatory for sport organizations and schools to inform themselves about the dangers of head injuries. Rowan’s Law helps protect the player and helps students, coaches, parents/guardians, teachers, and officials learn about preventing concussions.

In September 2019, the Ministry of Education updated its concussion policy (PPM 158) to be consistent with Rowan’s Law. Schools must comply with their school board’s existing concussion policy (which includes having a return to school and return to physical activity plan for any student who has a concussion).

Rowan’s Law is also about education. By increasing concussion awareness and knowledge, we can change Ontario’s culture around sports, physical activity, and injury. Encourage your kids to SPEAK UP, get the help they need, and take the time necessary for recovery, with the support of everyone around them.

We realize that this also lands on picture day so students may not want to wear purple for their picture, however, students are invited to wear PURPLE…Rowan’s favourite colour… as a sign of solidarity to concussion awareness and education in Rowan’s memory. We will be sharing important information will all students on this day specifically, and throughout the year, as part of our health curriculum.