Let's get physical with Moira

Waking up and getting out of bed is a promising start to any day, according to Moira. Forever the optimist, Moira is a glass half full kind of elder. She lives in a retirement village in the outer suburbs of Melbourne and tells me that if you walk 3 times around the village perimeter you get 5k’s of exercise. She believes movement holds the power to longevity and she not only lives it but gets as many other residents on the physical treadmill as she can.

Her motivation to seize each day came from her parents, they died quite suddenly, albeit with a good innings. She also had a brain haemorrhage in her early 60’s that forced her to take stock, literally adopt red pen fervency through her bucket list. She isn’t inclined to put things off because “you never know what’s around the corner”.

She fears for her peers that are physically challenged through inaction, so she runs active programs that start with teaching people how to get up when they fall. She tells me that generally, elders are worried about their knees more than they should be. She says, “it will hurt for a minute,” but using mobility to call for help is imperative. She also encourages people to do squats so that if they see fifty bucks on the ground, they can bend to pick it up and have a good day!

When Moira is not running a swim program or advocating for walking basketball she is a proud volunteer of Special Olympics, a non profit organisation to help children and adults with a physical or intellectual disability to play sport.

Moira started volunteering at Special Olympics 30 years ago. She said, “At the time I didn’t even really understand what an intellectual disability was, beyond Down’s Syndrome.” Now, she is an advocate for helping other people understand what it means to have a discord in mental processes. She tells me a story about her granddaughter suggesting that one student in her class is a bit silly. Moira explains to her, in simple terms, what it’s like to have a brain that operates a bit differently and how we can treat people with respect, no matter their differences.

Having a disability can be hard work especially when inclusivity is talked about but not practiced. Moira enjoys the personal satisfaction watching people achieve their physical goals that don’t otherwise get that lift from day to day living. She says there is triumph in lifting carer spirits too, parents seeing their kids succeed provides enormous satisfaction for everyone involved.

Moira has married her worlds through ongoing fundraising, she organises a cinema night at her retirement village to boost the coffers of the Special Olympics, they need financial support. Moira provides a helping hand wherever it is needed for a broad section of the community including, her peers, the participants of Special Olympics and her family. She provides people through her own processes with confidence using good communication skills, persuasion, praise and engagement and ultimately, she is changing lives.

We believe in the power of stories to illuminate and educate. Through sharing our experiences of getting older and caring for those around us, we can help each other navigate the challenges we will all face at some stage in our lives.

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