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Norwalk Makes History With New Concussion Guidelines For Youth Sports

Mayor Harry Rilling, Katheine Snedaker, Jerry Petrini and Wyatt Machette at a press conference announcing new concussion guidelines for Norwalk youth sports.
Mayor Harry Rilling, Katheine Snedaker, Jerry Petrini and Wyatt Machette at a press conference announcing new concussion guidelines for Norwalk youth sports. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk has become the first city in the state to approve a concussion program for its youth sports designed to protect injured kids and prevent them from further injury.

The guidelines for dealing with a concussion in youth sports were approved by the Common Council this week and are designed to close the loophole in the current concussion law that protects only middle school and high school athletes on school-sponsored teams.

Mike Mocciae, Norwalk Parks and Recreation director, worked on getting the guidelines passed for two years with Katherine Snedaker, a Norwalk concussion advocate and executive director of Pink Concussions and Sports CAPP.

“It’s very exciting that Norwalk has now set the standard of care, and we really invite other communities to see what we’ve done here and spread across the state this standard of care,” said Snedaker, when announcing the new guidelines on Thursday.

The guidelines apply to all youth sports activities conducted by the City of Norwalk or that take place on property owned by the city. Coaches are required to take a 30-minute online course and print a certificate, and parents and athletes are given fact sheets on concussions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If an athlete is injured in a game or a coach sees signs of an injury, the child is pulled from the game and the parents are notified. A 24-hour waiting period then begins before they can be allowed to play again. Athletes need medical clearance to be allowed to play, and the Parks and Recreation Department is notified of all concussions.

Mayor Harry Rilling praised the work of Mocciae and Snedaker in getting the guidelines passed, and said it will go a long way to protect Norwalk’s young athletes.

“This is another first for Norwalk, and if you look back we always seem to be a model for other cities to follow and that makes us very, very proud because we’re very progressive, we want to do things the right way, we want to make sure we protect all our community and this is just another way we’re doing that.”

“We knew this would be groundbreaking and it’s just really fulfilling to think that we can try to protect the youth of our city,” said Norwalk Common Council President Jerry Petrini.

Wyatt Machette is an eighth-grader at Roton Middle School who suffered two concussions back-to-back while playing hockey last year. He was kept out of the game for about six weeks as a result of his injuries, and said he was happy that new guidelines have been passed.

“I think it’s really good because now that I know we can be safe on our fields and kids won’t have to go through the same thing I went through, it’s really relieving,” Machette said.

Snedaker said she is working with other towns to try to adopt similar guidelines for their youth sports, and that there is a bill in the state Legislature that would establish similar guidelines statewide.

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