Move Me

Strength means different things to different people. For me, the greatest strength a person can demonstrate has nothing to do with their physical body, but rather their mental or spiritual fortitude. Well, using that definition, Kelsey Peterson has more strength than one hundred typical people. This young woman is extraordinary. So much so that despite the fact that the odds are stacked against her, Kelsey has co-directed this documentary film about her life after her accident.

At the age of 27, Kelsey Peterson became a quadriplegic after diving into the water of Lake Superior and hitting her head. Her life changed in the blink of an eye. Previously she had been a dancer and now she was to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. That would have defeated many of us. In the sense that we would have given up on life. Not Kelsey. She picked herself up and tried to figure out how she could still dance. Her injured body, which would not respond, be damned.

Move Me, which has traveled the festival route and will soon be available on PBS’s Independent Lens in the 2022-23 season, is one of the first feature films to be made by and about a quadriplegic. Since the accident Kelsey is a woman determined to redefine who she is in this world and how the world sees people in wheelchairs. A huge undertaking. Especially since, naturally, she is still adapting to her new reality and the acceptance of what happened to her.

Previous to the accident in 2012, Kelsey was a dancer, obtained her BFA in Dance from the University of Montana and a certified yoga instructor. Even though after the accident, she is paralyzed from the chest down, Kelsey choreographed and was a dancer in “A Cripple’s Dance”. She is a woman who wants to redefine what quadriplegics are believed to be capable of.

This is a doc about a personal journey. One that should inspire able-bodied and disabled people alike. It is about the strength of spirit of one human and her quest to not allow any limitations to define her. How no matter the odds, we can all find it within ourselves to redefine who we are. To challenge limitations.

The authenticity found here is incredibly moving. Plus, Kelsey is such a likable person, you cannot help but root for her and believe that she will accomplish whatever she sets out to. Real and intimate, she allows us into parts of life for a paralyzed person like sex and bathroom functions, that we don’t normally get to see. This completely destigmatizes those aspects that were previously hidden from view or not spoken of. It really functions as a bridge between disabled and able-bodied humans.

It also challenges us to see how all our bodies change throughout our lives. For everyone, at a certain point, we are not able to do things we could previously and how we adapt to that is something we should all think about and discuss. The documentary is a celebration not just of Kelsey and what she has accomplished, but more generally, how all humans can be highly adaptable.