Getting back into the swing of things with Soldier On

December 6, 2023 - Tim Bryant, Western Sentinel

Soldier On was out in force at the Edmonton Garrison Fitness Centre last month as the program held a three‑day multi-sport camp.

From Nov. 21 to 23, 15 members of the Soldier On community participated in four adaptive sports: wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, sledge hockey and adaptive curling.

“The premise behind this is essentially to get … members accustomed to adaptive sports,” explained Ryan Vincent, Soldier On’s regional co-ordinator for Alberta and Northern Canada.

Both able‑bodied members and those with physical challenges took part in the sports on offer. Vincent said that was done to help encourage the able‑bodied members to get involved with adaptive sports.

“Able‑bodied members are needed for adaptive sports,” he said. “We can’t field two full teams with just adaptive members.”

He added getting all members familiar with adaptive sports opens the doors to them potentially applying to participate in larger events like the Invictus Games and the Warrior Games, where they can meet their military peers from other countries who have gone through similar experiences.

For one camp participant, the Invictus Games are already on the radar.

Yvonne Lyver became aware of the Invictus Games through Prince Harry’s involvement. However, she didn’t immediately jump in head‑first because she felt she wasn’t in the right mental state at the time. It took getting involved with Soldier On to get her to the point she was ready to take that next step.

“When you meet other people who are suffering from the same illness, [you think] ‘Oh, I don’t feel so much alone anymore,’” she said, explaining joining Soldier On helped her overcome her triggers and anxiety.


Day 3 of the Soldier On multi-sport camp featured sledge hockey, which participant Yvonne Lyver said will “definitely humble you.”

Photo by Tim Bryant, Western Sentinel


Wheelchair basketball took over on Day 2 of the Soldier On multi-sport camp.

Photo by Sat Nandlall

Lyver got into the Soldier On world through applying for a grant for a paddleboard. That seemingly small act was a first step towards getting more involved in the program and its benefits. When she learned about the multi-sport camp, she jumped because she knew lots of people would be interested in participating.

“All [you] hear is the raving reviews of what happens to you when you start playing and getting into the swing of the military again,” she said. “It’s definitely woken me up.”

Another participant who has seen positive effects from joining the Soldier On program is Jonathan Dulude.

Since getting involved with Soldier On, he has had the opportunity to compete on the international stage, which was an enlightening experience.

“[It] opened my eyes to that we’re not alone,” he said. “There are other people out there that have the same injuries.”

Dulude said he lives with post‑traumatic stress disorder and is fully cognizant that not every injury is visible. You can be walking next to someone and they may have a visible injury like an adaptive leg, or they may be living with mental health challenges that are invisible. In both cases, they have challenges to live with.

“It just gave me a new life, a new window, a new challenge in life,” he said.

The three‑day camp was open to all Soldier On members in Western Canada, Vincent explained. For those not already in the Edmonton region, it served as more than simply a chance to try out some new sports.

“It gives them an opportunity not only to participate in a sport they’ve never really tried before, but it gives them an opportunity to be around veterans … at the same time,” he said.


On Day 1 of the Soldier On multi-sport camp, participants learned how to play wheelchair rugby.

Photo by Tim Bryant, Western Sentinel


Solider On multi-sport camp participants tried out adaptive curling in the evening of Day 2.

Photo by Sat Nandlall

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