NDG mom demands action after son concussed in schoolyard slip

Denise Thibaudeau’s son, Benjamin, suffered a concussion in December after slipping in the schoolyard, and now she wants to make sure it does not happen to anyone else.

7-year-old slipped in icy schoolyard at École Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in December

After her 7-year-old son suffered a concussion when he slipped on ice, Denise Thibaudeau wants school authorities to act more quickly to take care of the icy hazard caused by a longstanding drainage problem in the schoolyard. (Sean Henry/CBC)

Denise Thibaudeau's 7-year-old son, Benjamin, suffered a concussion in December after slipping in an icy schoolyard, and now the NDG mother wants to make sure it does not happen to anyone else.

Thibaudeau said Benjamin was running in the yard after classes at École Notre-Dame-de-Grâce when he slipped, fell and hit his head.

School officials told her they are aware of a drainage problem in the yard which causes the ice buildup but that the school only expects to repair the drain starting in the next school year.

She wrote to the school's principal about the icy hazard but has not received a response.

"It was an accident, but when you have an accident that happens over and over in the same place because of the same conditions, it becomes a preventable accident," Thibaudeau said.

She wants the school to come up with a plan so these accidents don't recur — even if that means reorganizing the budget so that de-icing is made a higher priority.

Thibaudeau has also turned to the school board, the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), for answers. She said she now finds herself being bounced back and forth between the school and the board without either offering concrete solutions.

The CSDM's vice-chair, Marie-José Mastromonaco, said the school board is investing $2 million in 2018-2019 on redoing the drain and schoolyard, followed by another $2 million in 2020-2021.

"There are always patches of ice," Mastromonaco acknowledged. "But whenever the schoolyard becomes a huge skating rink, that's when we don't allow children to go play in the schoolyard."

Still feeling effects of fall

Benjamin was out of school for about two weeks. 

The day he slipped, he was hyperventilating, wasn't able to comprehend what was being said to him, his mouth was partially paralyzed and he kept falling asleep, Thibaudeau said. 

His health is improving, but he is still suffering, she said. He can't look at anything too stimulating, and he's a bit slower than he used to be.

"Yesterday he was put in a room with a video game at his after-school program, so he was pretty sick when I picked him up, and that was difficult to see," Thibaudeau said. 

With files from Sean Henry and CBC Montreal's Homerun