Invictus Games Foundation Speaks at the NATO Youth Summit on Hope and Resilience Through Sport

May 16, 2024
5 Min read
Beyond The Games

The Invictus Games Foundation recently took part in the NATO Youth Summit to speak to the rehabilitative power of sport and the hope provided by the cause of the Invictus Games Foundation to the international wounded, injured or sick (WIS) service community.

The theme of the summit was ‘Shaping (Y)our Tomorrow’ and the Invictus Games Foundation was invited to discuss the topic of rehabilitation for the international service community as conflicts continue in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The panel was titled ‘Storytelling session with Invictus Games Foundation: Resilience and Hope Through Sport’ and was moderated by Mickaela Richards, Grants and Programmes Director for the Invictus Games Foundation, and featured Angelo Anderson, Invictus Endeavour Administrator for the Foundation and Ilona Voloshyna, Team Manager for Team Ukraine.

Ilona has been involved with Team Ukraine since their debut at the Invictus Games at Toronto 2017, serving in a variety of roles supporting the nations team, before becoming their Team Manager in 2023.

“In our team we’ve built relationships and we’ve been endowed with a unique trust to witness the vulnerabilities of these competitors.”

“It’s one biggest honours of my life serving as the Team Manager for Team Ukraine because these men and women, they have taught me resilience, strength, courage and that there’s nothing impossible in this life,” Ilona said.

Ilona spoke to the recovery journey faced by Ukrainian soldiers who are being injured on the frontlines of the conflict with Russia.

“The biggest trauma was not the loss of a limp or sight but the loss of belonging to their squad or to the military after discharge, they feel that they have no purpose in their life and the work of the Invictus Games Foundation, gives that sense of belonging to a community, back to them,” Ilona explained.

The biggest trauma was not the loss of a limp or sight but the loss of belonging to the military, they feel that they have no purpose in their life and the work of the Invictus Games Foundation, gives that sense of belonging to a community, back to them

Ilona Voloshyna

Team Manager for Team Ukraine

The Ukranian Team Manager also highlighted the importance of friends and family to the recovery journey of the WIS community and of initiatives spearheaded at the Invictus Games Foundation by people such as Angelo.

Angelo Anderson was a former competitor at the Invictus Games who now works as an Invictus Endeavours Administrator, with his work focusing on sporting and adventurous opportunities that the WIS community can take part in, Beyond the Invictus Games.

Ilona spoke to the panel of the story of Oleksii and Iryna, who always planned to run a marathon together, they were happily married with children and were in training for a Marathon when Oleksii was killed in battle with the Russian Armed Forces.

Oleksii was provided with a space in the London Marathon by the Invictus Games Foundation, Iryna wanted to keep their promise and complete the marathon in her husband's memory.

Ilona reached out to Mickaela to see if Iryna could take her husband’s place and with Family and Friends at the heart of everything the Invictus Games Foundation does, Mickaela took all the necessary measures to ensure Iryna had a place in the marathon and could run in her husband's memory.

“She kept her promise, and she ran the London Marathon in her husbands' memory, and I am so thankful to the Invictus Games Foundation that you acknowledge the role of friends and family and gave this opportunity to her, as they really do play a critical part on the recovery journey,” Ilona said.

“She’s a great example of determination,” Mickaela Richards said and credited the entire Ukrainian community as a “shining example of the Invictus Spirit”.

“We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary since the inaugural Invictus Games of London 2014 and unfortunately the demand for our services will continue long into the future and we are grateful to be able to share the importance of our work with the young minds at the NATO Youth Summit that will hopefully shape a better future for the international WIS community,” Mickaela said.

About NATO Youth Summit

NATO co-hosted the fourth edition of the NATO Youth Summit, together with the Aspen Institute, Aspen Institute Romania, and the Swedish Defence University.

The summit took place in two locations across the Atlantic - Miami, (US), and Stockholm (Sweden) - with virtual watch parties also happening across the Alliance.

The summit serves as a platform to engage, build links, enhance understanding, exchange views, and explore how the transatlantic Alliance addresses current and future challenges.

You can watch the full livestream of the event here, the Invictus Games Foundation panel commences at 02:32:30.

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