The Power of Sport

Film connecting sport to stroke recovery aims to inspire stroke survivors

Stroke survivors and sports

An inspiring new documentary featuring West Park Healthcare Centre patients and staff shows how sport/physical activity can contribute to the continued recovery and rehabilitation of stroke survivors.

The Power of Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity in the Rehabilitation Process - Bridging the Gap Between Hospital and Home focuses on three stroke survivors and how rehabilitation, stroke support groups and a dedication to sport/physical activity has helped them achieve active lives again.

The 12-minute film and its inspiring message is drawing the attention of media since its release this week, with segments on Global News - Making a Difference,  CTV News Toronto and CITYNews Toronto. Collingwood Today also published a piece on the film.

The goal of the film’s producer is to share The Power of Sport with as many individuals as possible and inspire recovery for stroke survivors and their caregivers. 

“My hope is that The Power of Sport helps expand public representation of sport participation to include Canadians of all abilities,” said Alicia Tyson, who began production of the film in 2019.”

“The Power of Sport can also inspire and invite all Canadians to be physically active for health and well-being,” Tyson added.

One of the three stroke survivors featured – Paul Bak – is Alicia’s husband. Her first-hand experience as a caregiver during his recovery sparked the idea for the film

“It was at a stroke recovery group meeting that Paul and I met Sean Russell and Pino Galati (the other two stroke survivors in The Power of Sport). Listening to them speak about their goals to resume active lives and sport encouraged Paul, and gave me the idea to capture their journey on film for others to experience.” Tyson says.

Bak, a very active hiker, cyclist, skier and hockey player found great comfort others shared his desire to engage in sport again. 

"I feel that it was extremely important in my stroke recovery to connect with other stroke survivors and to provide hope and inspiration to each other for a full recovery,” Bak says. “Especially involving sports and physical activity which helped me realize that I am not alone on my journey.”

Russell, also an avid skier, looked forward to a return to the slopes and hiking trails, as well rock climbing with his wife Katherine. Galati’s goals included playing soccer, dancing and activities of daily living like driving and playing with his grandkids.

All graduates of West Park Healthcare Centre’s Neurological Rehabilitation service, the three know there are still challenges ahead as some of the effects of their strokes linger. But all are well on the way to resuming their active lives fully.

The stroke recovery group meetings at West Park organized by March of Dimes Canada were also helpful in tackling the many challenges stroke survivors face – physical and mental. The Power of Sport shows how group activities like these, combined with sport/physical activity as part of stroke rehabilitation can increase community participation, improve self-esteem, improve mental health and reduce isolation and loneliness. 

And as winter and the COVID pandemic slog along, the film illustrates how sport/physical activity as part of stroke rehabilitation during this time can improve self-esteem and improve physical and mental health.

“I think everyone can take away something valuable away from The Power of Sport,” says Tyson. “Sport and physical activity, whatever your abilities are, are so important to your physical and mental well-being. The stories of these three stroke survivors shows that.”

To watch this powerful film, visit

Watch the Global News Making a Difference segment here 

Watch the CTV News Toronto segment here

Watch the CityNews Toronto segment here 

Read the Collingwood Today piece here