School Board to Educate Students on Concussions

Montreal - Friday, September 8, 2017

Team Up Speak Up is an international concussion education campaign designed to change the culture of concussions in sports by encouraging athletes to Speak Up if they think a teammate has a concussion. The EMSB is the first Canadian school board to sign on to the campaign, and others can do so at

The goal is that by September 12, known as Team Up Speak Up Day, every athlete in Canada will receive a speech from their team leadership, including their coach, captain and medical team, teaching them that a good teammate will  “Speak Up” to a coach or athletic trainer if they think another teammate might have a concussion. NHL Hall of Famer Eric Lindros, former pro football player Warren Sapp and former international soccer star Brandi Chastain are serving as  Team Up Speak Up Ambassadors.

Concussion awareness is such an important topic for all students,” stated EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini. “There is  a perception that athletes are the only individuals at risk, but the fact is anyone can be involved in an accident which could result in concussion-like symptoms. We are grateful to have this new partnership with an organization like the Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada.

Tim Fleiszer, Founder and Executive Director of Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada and a former CFL player, brought Team Up Speak Up to Canada after a successful launch last year in the United States. “I am amazed at the support that Team Up Speak Up received in its inaugural year. This is a program that everyone in sports can get behind to protect youth athletes.

Jace Lis-D'alessandro, a defenceman with the Junior AAA Arctic de Montréal Nord and a former student, will share his experiences with concussions.

In 2016 over 150 organizations representing 3 million athletes signed on. 2017 is on pace to beat that record, with the growing list of participating organizations including USA Rugby, USA Hockey, NASCAR, the Positive Coaching Alliance, the American Hockey Coaches Association, Major League Lacrosse, the Ivy League, and the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Team Up Speak Up is inspired by the Stringer’s daughter, Rowan. Rowan was a 17-year-old rugby player who died suddenly as a result of Second Impact Syndrome in 2013, and is also the namesake of Rowan’s Law, Canada’s first concussion legislation. The Stringers hope that by training athletes to Speak Up, future deaths can be prevented. A co-captain of her rugby team, Rowan chose to play a game while recovering from a concussion she had not reported to her coach, parents, or medical professionals. Rowan had confided in friends that she thought she had a concussion, but they did not understand the risks of playing with a concussion, and agreed she should report it after the next game. During that next game, Rowan suffered Second Impact Syndrome, a rapid swelling of her brain which can occur if a player receives a head impact soon after a concussion, and died.

Organizations, coaches, parents, and athletes can sign up to participate at, where they can learn more about the program and how to give the speech. Those who pledge to participate in Team Up Speak Up are asked to post on social media using #TeamUpSpeakUp and include a “teamie” – a photo of teammates with their arms around one another and index fingers in the air pointing up, signifying that they’re teaming up.

Organizations can send their logo to Amy Samsonovitch at to be listed as a supporter.

About the Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada:
Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada was founded in December of 2012 by Tim Fleiszer, a former Harvard teammate of Dr. Nowinski, to help solve the concussion crisis in Canada. Since that time, CLF Canada has operated prevention, education and awareness events across the country. In January of 2014, CLF Canada received its charitable status from Revenue Canada. In 2014, CLF Canada officially partnered with Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University.

About Rowan’s Law:
Rowan’s Law created an expert advisory committee to Ontario’s Premier that advises on the implementation of the Ontario specific recommendations. Right now, every jurisdiction in the United States has concussion related legislation. With the passage of Rowan’s Law, Ontario became the first province in Canada to do so.

Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada contact:
Samantha Bureau
Director of Public Relations
Rowan’s Legacy Project Coordinator
(C): 613-404-5566

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