Keeping Youth Safe Playing the Sports They Love – BIAWA’s Connection to Parks & Recreation

Guest Post by the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington

By Suzette Hart, Marketing & Development Director, Brain Injury Alliance of Washington

Youth sports create a direct connection between the parks and recreation field and the work of the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington (BIAWA). WRPA members organize and administer sports leagues and/or coordinate with sports leagues that use public facilities. BIAWA fully embraces the importance of play, participation, and engagement in sports. That said, BIAWA also recognizes the possibility that injuries can and do occur during play.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Washington was founded as a nonprofit in 1982 and is a state-wide resource for individuals with brain injury. Each year, BIAWA helps thousands of individuals with brain injuries and their families through resources, classes, advocacy, and much more. BIAWA’s vision is a world where brain injury is prevented, and every person already affected by its impact benefits from resources to maximize their quality of life. BIAWA’s mission is to increase public awareness, support, and hope for those affected by brain injury through education, assistance, and advocacy.

People Around a Table for the 2009 Singing of the Zackery Lystedt Law

Governor Gregoire signs the Zackery Lystedt Law. In attendance (front row L) Dr. Stan Herring, Richard Adler, Esq., Governor Christine Gregoire, Mercedes Lystedt, Zackery Lystedt. (seated), Victor Lystedt, and Jay Rodne (R) 5th Leg. District. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Of those individuals, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and 1.4 million are treated and released from the emergency department. Brain injury is often called the “silent epidemic” because public recognition of brain injury is extremely low despite the staggering number of people who are injured each year. The effects of brain injury—physical impairment, cognitive deficits, behavior issues—have a far-reaching impact on a survivor’s quality of life. 

Concussions are a major issue in youth sports. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, emergency room visits for concussions in kids ages 8 to 13 years have doubled, and concussions have risen by 200% among teens ages 14 to 19 in the last decade. The Institute of Medicine reports that sports with the highest occurrence of concussion are football, Lacrosse, girls’ soccer, wrestling, and girls’ basketball, and boys’ soccer (more information).

As advocates, BIAWA played an integral part in the 2009 passage of the Zackery Lystedt Law, the rigorous return to play law that was the first of its kind in the nation. The Lystedt Law, along with the WIAA’s recently passed Kenney Bui Rule, help keep kids safe playing the sports they love. The BIAWA team supports youth and their families in concussion management, advocating for therapeutic interventions, return to school and educational advocacy, and more.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Washington launched a monthly Brain Injury Today (BIT) podcast in March 2020 in response to the pandemic as a way to keep the community connected. Guests include survivors, professionals, and experts. Episode 15 of the BIT, Keeping Kids Safe Playing the Sports They Love, features guests Dr. Stan Herring and Darin Harris. Dr. Herring is a leading sports medicine doctor who helped pass the Lystedt Law and continues to promote safety as the co-founder of the Sports Institute at UW Medicine. Mr. Harris is a former UW football player, a brain injury survivor, and BIAWA board member. Harris was also a guest in Episode 6 where he joins host Deborah Crawley, BIAWA Executive Director, to discuss the struggles he has faced and how he has learned to live with his traumatic brain injury. The BIT Podcast is available at or on most podcast apps.

To find out more about Brain Injury, find resources, or learn how you can get involved, visit or contact Suzette Hart at [email protected].

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Brain Injury Golf Tournament LogoOn September 2nd, the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington will host the Brain Injury Golf Tournament at the exclusive Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent. The event will benefit BIAWA’s pediatric brain injury support and prevention program. Registration includes all green fees and carts, lunch, reception & dinner. Fun contests too!

Solo Golfer: $250.00 | Foursome: $900.00 | Foursome + Hole Sponsor: $1,500.00

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All views and opinions expressed by BIAWA in this blog post are solely their current views and opinions. They do not reflect the view and opinions of WRPA, its affiliates, staff, members, or employees. BISWA's opinions are based upon information they consider reliable, but neither WRPA nor its affiliates, staff, members, or employees, warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such.

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