We had the awesome opportunity to interview Natalie Fung of the Rollettes! The Rollettes are a dance team for women in wheelchairs. Their mission is to “empower women with disabilities to live boundlessly and shift perspective through dance.” When we first were introduced to this dance team, we knew their mission and positivity was something we had to share.
Natalie Fung is one of the Rollettes. Our conversation started far before she found the dance team. Natalie was a senior in college in 2013 when she took a trip to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, a drunk driver hit the cab she was riding in, and her neck was broken at the C5 vertebrae. Natalie now is quadraplegic, with little to no hand function. When explaining her disability, she brought up our magnetic button adaptors. Natalie said that it’s great for her to have the button adaptors especially having dexterity issues. After her accident, Natalie went back to school attending one class a semester and only graduated a year late!
Natalie met some girls in the Los Angeles area that were part of a dance group. Excited to join a group with similarities, Natalie began meeting with them to dance. She talked about the importance of finding a community that truly understands what you’re going through.
Natalie said her friends were able to be empathetic, but it’s so important to be able to talk to people that understand exactly how you’re feeling. They’re in the same position as you, and genuinely can understand all of the complex emotions associated with what you’re going through. She said that this discovery was a huge turning point for her. She learned to embrace her life. Why is “normal” one specific thing? Confronting this question and learning her new normal was important for Natalie.
While on this topic, Natalie touched on her anxiety and depression. She talked about how common it is among people with disabilities to have these mental struggles. An important thing she’s found helps her cope is mindfulness and meditation. She got into meditation when she was reading books and it has helped her immensely. She said it helps her calm anxieties when she’s thinking too much about the past, or possible future outcomes of life etc. Mindfulness and meditation has really helped her focus on enjoying the current moment. In fact, Natalie hosts guided meditations at Rollettes events!
To go back to the dance group Natalie met in L.A., Natalie explained that the small group of 12 female dancers transformed into the 200 woman dance group, the Rollettes. She officially joined them in 2019. Natalie frequently talks about the strength and positivity the Rollettes have brought her.
When we asked Natalie what she does to keep busy, she said she frequently reads from L.A.’s public library. During the pandemic, there are free E-Books she’s taken advantage of. She also runs the Rollettes’ Twitter page! Natalie also told us that she enjoys using dance as a form of cardio when she’s working out.
Natalie told us a couple of the organizations that she finds incredibly helpful are the Triumph Foundation and Swim with Mike. The Triumph Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps people with spinal cord injuries and paralysis overcome their injuries and inspire them to keep going. Swim with Mike is a scholarship program at USC for ANY student athlete that has become disabled. We were grateful to Natalie for sharing these two organizations with us, so that we can share them with you all!
To learn more about Natalie and the Rollettes, check them out on their website. They also have an event coming up October 10th-11th called the Rollettes Experience. Find more information about the Rollettes Experience here. The event will be completely virtual this year, and Natalie expects it will still be able to exceed expectations. Natalie can be found on Instagram: @Natleef.
Wareologie develops assistive devices to restore levels of independence and self-care, allowing people to maintain their dignity. Founded in 2019 with support from the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) and Lawrence Technological University’s Centrepolis Accelerator, Wareologie is an FDA, certified WBENC company committed to manufacturing in Michigan.