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Brandon’s Y is Sports

Sports have given me so much throughout my lifetime. I’ve gained friends, a season of junior hockey, tournament trips around the world, and most importantly, mental strength and the means to adapt to life in a wheelchair. I have learned so much that I am happy to turn around and teach other children at the Y in hopes that they will also gain resiliency, joy, and lifelong skills. 

I grew up playing and loving sports, and even got to play for the Revelstoke Grizzlies Junior hockey team which was an incredible experience. Just before starting grade 12, my life changed significantly when I came down with bacterial meningitis. The doctors told me I was lucky to have survived, but my abilities had completely changed, and my body was paralyzed. 

A young blonde man in a blue shirt and a wheelchair is smiling at the camera and holding a basketball in a gymnasium. There's an 8 year old girl holding the back handles of the chair also smiling at the camera.

I went from being a high-performance athlete to someone who couldn’t get dressed on their own which was extremely tough- both mentally and physically. Over the next six months I went through several surgeries and rehab at Vancouver Children’s Hospital. The discipline and determination I learned through sports is what helped me work relentlessly at rehab. When I left the hospital, I had very minimal use of my legs and a weaker left side of my torso. 

After going home, I had to accept the fact that I would need to rely on a wheelchair for most of my life. My parents noticed how hard this was for me and encouraged me get back to my normal workout routine. It really helped me feel better and I eventually started to play sports again. Wheelchair rugby takes up most of my time now. I even got to play in Prague and just recently made the Canadian National team! 

When I was young, I never knew how to act around people in wheelchairs, and I hope I can change that so that more kids are inclusive. I had always wanted to work somewhere that I could make an impact and share all that I gained from sports with other kids. These are all the reasons I chose to work at the Y in their child and youth recreation department. Now I work in camps, and teach basketball and soccer in a welcoming, supportive, and team-oriented setting.

My favorite parts of my job are seeing the kids’ skills develop and seeing them become more comfortable around my chair. I want them to see that people with disabilities can be empowered.

A young blonde man in a blue shirt and a wheelchair is smiling at the camera in a gymnasium. There's a group of 20 kids and leaders playing a game in the background.

They love to see me do wheelies, and I love to surprise them with my basketball skills. Hopefully, I can help them see that others like me can be athletic, and you can invite them to play games and sports just like anyone else. 

The mentality I gained from playing sports has helped me in so many ways. I am happy to help empower more children through sports so that they too can handle whatever life throws their way. 

The YMCA of Southern Interior BC was established over 40 years ago as a cause-driven charity with a mission dedicated to building healthy individuals and communities. They strive to promote healthy lifestyles, nurture young minds, and strengthen the community. Learn more about our cause.