Olivia Moosey: Changing The Stigma Around Physical Disabilities In Fitness

My name is Olivia Moosey + I’m a current junior at DePaul University. I joined CHAARG my first quarter at college + it was the best ++ healthiest decision I’ve ever made. 

My entire life, I’ve always felt like an outsider. I have a physical disability called Cerebral Palsy [right side hemiplegia] meaning I have weakness on the right side of my body. From pre-K through college, I was the only student in my grade or class with a physical disability. I grew up genuinely thinking that I was the only person who looked like me. I always did my best to fit in with the able-bodied crowd + I never let my disability get to me or get in the way of the things I wanted to accomplish. 

Living with a physical disability, I know that I go through things able-bodied people don’t experience. I’ve faced discrimination from my peers, I’ve been fired from a job due to my disability, I’ve had to fight to get into higher level classes, + people tend to stare at me when I walk because I have a bit of a limp. Thankfully, I’ve learned to take all of these things as a learning opportunity. I feel that I’ve been able to better understand the world around me, I’ve learned how to stand up for myself, + I’ve become a stronger person from my experience with a physical disability.

When I joined CHAARG, I found that it was really the only place that I could truly be myself + not feel judged. I felt accepted, which was an amazing feeling. I, sadly, didn’t have that anywhere else when I first started college. I immediately saw that everyone was so nice, supportive, + encouraging in the DePaul CHAARG Chapter. It was truly an empowering community of women! I will never forget at the end of my first quarter #inCHAARG, an exec leader came up to me + went, “Oh my god, Olivia! We love you + thank you so much for joining! We hope you continue with this!”

For all other exec leaders: that made my whole year. Never underestimate the power of your words! 

I not only continued being a part of CHAARG, I ended up re-launching the DePaul CHAARG Chapter + becoming an Ambassador. I’m now serving as an Event Coordinator for the DePaul CHAARG exec team + hope that I can be a part of changing the stigma around people with physical disabilities in health + fitness. 

There are many able bodied people who think that people with disabilities can’t do anything that involves physical exercise. That can’t be further from the truth! People with disabilities actually need physical exercise more than anything because of our weaker muscles — we need to move them regularly so they don’t deteriorate more! Yes, there are certain activities + exercises that we  physically can’t do, but we are able to adapt, find ones that work for us, + get the job done!

I want CHAARG to be able to show people that no matter your ability level or where you are in your fitness journey that fitness looks different on everyone. As long as you’re showing up, doing the work, + are getting stronger in your body + mind… that’s all that matters!

Rapid Fire Questions With Olivia:
#1] One Word That Describes Me: Strong
#2] Favorite Workout: Shadow Boxing + Zumba
#3] Workout I Want To Try: Rock Climbing!
#4] Favorite Disability Creator On Instagram: My top 3 are @realchelseabear, @pauuzzo, + @stephthehammer
#5] Favorite Book/Resource On Disabilities: The Power of Different by Gail Saltz
#6] One Thing That Might Surprise You About Cerebral Palsy: It’s the most common lifelong physical disability in the world + March 25th is CP Awareness Day!
#7] One Way You Can Be An Ally To People With Disabilities: Questions out of respect always are the way to go. We completely get you are curious as to what happened to us. Using phrases such as “May I ask you something” or “Is it okay if I ask you?” makes us feel that you understand what you’re about to ask might be sensitive.
#8] Favorite CHAARG Memory: TOO MANY!!! I remember we had a movie night + I brought Thin Mints and one goes “Did you freeze them?” I went, “Yes!” and she goes, “YOU ARE THE BEST!!!” They were eaten within the first 10 minutes, haha!
#9] Being #inCHAARG To Me Means… Trying your best! As long as you show up, do what you can, are getting stronger and making progress in your own way that’s all that matters!! Also, supporting + encouraging other CHAARG members : )

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