“SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 111 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:--
“Youth”, an individual who is 18 years of age or younger.
“Youth athletic activity”, an organized athletic activity where the majority of participants are 18 years of age or younger
“Youth sports organization”, any public or private organization or school that organizes, operates, manages or sponsors a youth athletic activity for its students, members, enrollees or attendees.
SECTION 2. Said chapter 111 is hereby further amended by striking out section 222, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following section:--
Section 222. (a) The department shall direct the division of violence and injury prevention to develop an interscholastic athletic head injury safety training program in which all youth sports organizations shall participate. Participation in the program shall be required annually of coaches, trainers and parent volunteers for any youth athletic activity; physicians and nurses who are employed by a youth sports organization or who volunteer to assist with a youth athletic activity; athletic directors; directors responsible for a school marching band; and a parent or legal guardian of a child who participates in a youth athletic activity.
In developing the program, the division may use any of the materials readily available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program shall include, but not be limited to: (1) current training in recognizing the symptoms of potentially catastrophic head injuries, concussions and injuries related to second impact syndrome; and (2) providing youth athletes that participate in any youth athletic activity, including membership in a marching band, the following information annually: a summary of department rules and regulations relative to safety regulations for participation in youth athletic activities, including the medical protocol for post-concussion participation or participation in a youth athletic activity; written information related to the recognition of symptoms of head injuries, the biology and the short-term and long-term consequences of a concussion.
(b) The department shall develop forms on which youth athletes shall be instructed to provide information relative to any sports head injury history at the start of each sports season or program. These forms shall require the signature of both the youth athlete and the parent or legal guardian thereof. Once complete, the forms shall be forwarded to all coaches prior to allowing any youth athlete to participate in a youth athletic activity so as to provide coaches with up-to-date information relative to an athlete’s head injury history and to enable coaches to identify youth athletes who are at greater risk for repeated head injuries.
(c) If a youth athlete participating in a youth athletic activity becomes unconscious during a practice or competition, the youth athlete shall not return to the practice or competition during which youth athlete became unconscious or participate in any youth athletic activity until youth athlete provides written authorization for such participation, from a licensed physician, licensed neuropsychologist, certified athletic trainer or other appropriately trained or licensed health care professional as determined by the department of public health, to the director of the youth sports organization that sponsored the activity during which the injury occurred.
If a youth athlete suffers a concussion as diagnosed by a medical professional, or is suspected to have suffered a concussion while participating in a youth athletic activity, the youth athlete shall not return to the practice or competition during which the youth athlete suffered, or is suspected to have suffered, a concussion and shall not participate in any youth athletic activity until the youth athlete provides written authorization for such participation, from a licensed physician, licensed neuropsychologist, certified athletic trainer or other appropriately trained or licensed health care professional as determined by the department of public health, to the youth sports organization that sponsored the activity during which the injury occurred.
(d) A coach, trainer, employee or volunteer for a youth athletic activity shall not encourage or permit a youth athlete participating in a youth athletic activity to engage in any unreasonably dangerous athletic technique that unnecessarily endangers the health of a youth athlete, including using a helmet or any other sports equipment as a weapon.
(e) The youth sports organization shall maintain complete and accurate records of the organization’s compliance with the requirements of this section. A youth sports organization that fails to comply with this section, as determined by the department, shall be subject to penalties as determined by the department.
(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to waive liability or immunity of a school district or its officers or employees. This section shall not create any liability for a course of legal action against a school district, its officers or employees.
(g) A person who volunteers to assist with a youth athletic activity shall not be liable for civil damages arising out of any act or omission relating to the requirements of this section, unless such person is willfully or wantonly negligent in his act or omission.
(h) The division shall adopt regulations to carry out this section.
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