Get ready to roll on Sunday, September 17th as a new event brings diversity and inclusivity to the forefront at Rockefeller Center! The Roll Out Jam is a family-friendly event that brings awareness to The Axis Project, a nonprofit that motivates people living with disabilities to pursue healthy and active lifestyles through community engagement. From 12 to 4PM, join the fun in New York City as roller skating, music, art and more combine for an afternoon that gives new meaning to the phrase rock ‘n’ roll.

The Axis Project team and creators of The Roll Out Jam gather at Skate NYC at Rockefeller Center, presented by Flipper's Roller Boogie Palace (C) Positive Exposure

What Is The Roll Out Jam At Rockefeller Center?

This season, Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace has taken over Rockefeller Center’s famous ice rink, converting it to a roller rink that people of all ages can enjoy as “Skate NYC.” For the Roll Out Jam, organized by Danniel Swatosh and Axis Project founder George Gallego, the Boogie Palace in the city’s heartland becomes an afternoon block party. Attendees will enjoy a headlining performance by paraplegic rapper TapWaterz, a nationally recognized artist noted for his work with Snoop Dogg and Stevie Wonder; he is also the co-founder of 4 Wheel City, an entertainment group that uses hip hop to raise awareness about living with disabilities. Other musical performances include Jamaican artist Ryan O’Neil, founder of Brave New Records, and DJs Jennifly and Sunny Cheeba. Internationally renowned choreographer Heidi Latsky brings a groundbreaking physically integrated dance performance to the event, a representation of her nearly 15 years heading the eponymous Heidi Latsky Dance, which creates movement pieces for people with disabilities.

The minds behind From The Throne podcast, a vibrant trio breaking barriers on the visibility of people living with disabilities, will be live broadcasting and emceeing the Roll Out Jam. Co-hosts Jessie Chin, Frenchy Minaj, and Antwan Tolliver generate interactive content throughout the day. There’s also an artful collaboration - a mural envisioned by artist Giannina Gutierrez and brought to life by Jasmine Castillo and Stefan Henry of Level The Curve, a startup that manifests disability independence. Guests may also indulge in delectable food and drink from award-winning restaurant Contento, cocktails from Pollinator Spirits, and CBD education by Calm Better Days.

(C) The Axis Project

Who Are The Roll Out Jam's Partners?

Honeysuckle is proud to be a media partner for the Roll Out Jam, alongside sponsors Wine on Wheels, the Mount Sinai Spinal Cord Injury Program, Etain Health, Accessible Dispatch and of course presenting sponsor Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace. Other partners include Ableworld, Bunmi Samuel, the United Spinal Association NYC, Positive Exposure, Yesenia Torres, Disability Unite, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Level The Curve, Calm Better Days, Pollinator Spirits, Access Initiatives, and Contento.

A Word From The Roll Out Jam's Organizers George Gallego and Danniel Swatosh

What inspired you to create the Roll Out Jam?

George Gallego

The inspiration for Roll Out Jam came from my own personal journey and the Vision of the RollOut Jam came from my Partner Danniel Swatosh. However, this concept would not have been given birth without our friend Bunmi Samuel, the founder of MyAbleWorld, who introduced us to Josh Greenspan from Flippers Roller Boogie Palace at Rockefeller Center!

After my spinal cord injury in 1992, I experienced a challenging decade of adjustment. Once I embraced my new way of life, I realized that I could still celebrate life; I just needed to adjust my perspective. Roll Out Jam is an embodiment of that realization. We wanted to create an event where everyone, regardless of their physical capabilities, can come together to celebrate life, enjoy music, and break barriers. It's about showcasing that while our methods may differ, our love for life and community remains unyielding.

Danniel Swatosh

When Bunmi Samuel first mentioned Flippers at Rockefeller Center, it was like a burst of inspiration that lit up my imagination. Immediately, I knew we had to organize an all-inclusive roller party, and thus, RollOut Jam was born. RollOut Jam embodies the essence of rolling out with your friends to a lively celebration where everyone is not just invited, but genuinely embraced. It's an event that levels the playing field, where the freedom to express yourself, the joy of creativity, and the thrill of wheels unite us all.

But RollOut Jam is more than just a party; it's a labor of love that springs from the depths of my heart. It's a tribute to my partner and fiancé, George, an incredible force in my life who also happens to be paraplegic. Through his remarkable journey, I've gained invaluable insights and learned the true meaning of resilience. Most people who rely on mobility devices have never had the chance to experience the thrill of gliding on a roller rink. One in four people has a disability, yet society often remains oblivious to this fact. It's not that disabilities don't exist; it's that our world isn't designed to accommodate everyone.

RollOut Jam is our way of changing that narrative, one joyful roll at a time. It's about inclusivity, breaking down barriers, and creating a world where everyone can join in the fun, regardless of their abilities.

How did you curate your lineup of artists and event activation partners?

George Gallego

The curation process was centered around inclusivity and celebrating diversity. We reached out to artists and partners who share the vision of The AXIS Project and have a genuine commitment to promoting understanding, acceptance, and equality. Many of these artists and partners have either personal experiences with disabilities or have been advocates for the community. They understand the importance of creating an atmosphere where everyone feels welcomed and celebrated.

Danniel Swatosh

As we celebrate the revival of The AXIS Project, we've harnessed the collective power of our community. We've established a dynamic steering committee comprising eight outstanding individuals — advocates, visionaries, creatives, and thought leaders, all committed to infusing diverse perspectives, thereby amplifying our mission and enriching our resources.

Among these remarkable individuals are Jose Hernandez and Debra Poli of United Spinal NYC, whose dedication has been invaluable. We also extend our heartfelt appreciation to Marcus Johnson, Chris Noel, Amy Meisner, Jessica De La Rosa, Stefan Henry, and Yesenia Tores. These individuals are not just disability rights advocates; they are the driving force behind our journey, guiding us with unwavering dedication and expertise toward our shared vision.

What are some standout elements of the Roll Out Jam that you're looking forward to?

George Gallego

We are particularly excited about the mix of people that will be coming together for this event. From roller skaters with and without disabilities, to talented artists performing, and the backdrop of the iconic Rockefeller Center, it's going to be a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere. Furthermore, the various programs we've scheduled throughout the day, from advocacy talks to performances, aim to engage and educate attendees. I'm also looking forward to seeing how the community comes together in this creative and festive atmosphere.

Danniel Swatosh

Taking over The Rock is nothing short of epic, as people from around the globe converge to witness a groundbreaking display of inclusion that we hope will reverberate throughout society, igniting a profound change from within.

Our lineup for this monumental event promises to be nothing less than magical. From the dynamic rapper and disability rights advocate TapWaterz, to the awe-inspiring physically integrated dance performance by , we have assembled a cast of inspiring and remarkable talents.

But the magic doesn't stop there. Stefan Henry, the visionary behind Level the Curve, joined forces with us to craft a vibrant mural envisioned by the talented Giannina Gutierrez and brought to life by Jasmine Castillo. Together with our guests, we will create a visual masterpiece that mirrors the spirit of unity and inclusion that defines this extraordinary gathering. I’m thrilled to announce the integration of a Rest + Serenity CBD shop + gifting station curated by my friend Amy Chin. of Calm Better Days.

You are both experienced in producing events. How is the Roll Out Jam different from anything else you've created?

George Gallego and Danniel Swatosh

Roll Out Jam is special because it's not just another event; it's a mission. Many events we've produced in the past had specific goals, but this one aims to transcend beyond just one day of festivities. It's about reshaping perceptions, fostering unity, and championing the idea that everyone can have fun, irrespective of their physical abilities. The very essence of the event, set in the heart of New York City, is to promote inclusivity on a grand scale.

How do you hope the Roll Out Jam will educate the public about accessibility and opening more opportunities for people living with disabilities?

George Gallego and Danniel Swatosh

We hope that by experiencing (visually) the Roll Out Jam firsthand, attendees and spectators will realize that accessibility isn't just about physical spaces, but also about changing mindsets. The event will showcase that with a little creativity and willingness, activities and spaces can be made inclusive for everyone. By mingling, networking, and enjoying alongside people with disabilities, we hope attendees will gain a deeper understanding and empathy, prompting them to be advocates for change in their own communities and circles.

Anything else you want to share?

George Gallego and Danniel Swatosh

We just want everyone to know that Roll Out Jam is more than a party; it's a movement. It represents the culmination of our personal journeys and the many people we've met along the way who have taught us the value of resilience, community, and love. Come with an open heart, and let's make this day unforgettable, not just for us but for everyone who will be inspired by what we achieve together.

What Are Artists And Partners Saying About The Roll Out Jam?

As we near this one-of-a-kind event’s launch, we asked the artists and partners to share what inspired them to turn up for the Roll Out Jam, and what the world at large could stand to learn about people living with disabilities.

What makes the Roll Out Jam important to you, and what does it mean for you to participate in this event?

(C) TapWaterz

TapWaterz, Artist and Co-founder, 4 Wheel City

I am honored to perform at the Roll Out Jam rolling skating event at Rockefeller Center hosted by the Axis Project, as we celebrate the indomitable spirit of those with spinal cord injuries and in wheelchairs. In every whirl and twirl, we defy limitations, showcasing the power of adaptability and the beauty of unity on wheels. With every graceful movement, we spread a message of hope, proving that happiness knows no boundaries, and a shared passion for rolling creates a world where everyone can “shine and roll” like my new song says.

Arianny Kiernan-Ramirez, Clinical Project Manager for the Spinal Cord Injury Program for the Rehabilitation Department of Mount Sinai

It is vital to see fun, inclusive events in NYC. Representation matters and people with disabilities want to feel included in the many events that NYC offers. Only a few are genuinely inclusive, so I am excited about the Roll Out Jam! I am also proud to represent Mount Sinai Rehabilitation and Human Performance Department. They are an Education Sponsor for the Roll Out Jam. They understand the importance of supporting the local disability community and this fun, inclusive event. In addition, it is nice to see all disability activists, artists, communicators, and my friends all in one place, celebrating the community and being excited about the re-opening of the Axis Project.

(C) Ryan O'Neil

Ryan O’Neil, Artist and Founder, Brave New Records

I'm honored and happy anytime I'm invited to play somewhere. I'm specifically excited to play an event that highlights people with disabilities. It's important to show what amazing things people can do with their so-called limitations.

Heidi Latsky Dance Company performs CITY STREETS (C) Heidi Latsky Dance

Heidi Latsky, Founder and Artistic Director, Heidi Latsky Dance

The Roll Out Jam is brilliant! In an exquisite and elegant iconic space that has so many eyes on it, exhibiting wheelchair dancers accompanied by amazing musical artists elevates the community and shows people with disabilities enjoying themselves to the full extent. Having been an advocate since 2007, I have been mentored by incredible disabled activists and know the importance of shattering deep misperceptions about the disability community. To show the community having fun, dancing, singing and interacting is critical to this shift.

My attempt to change people’s images of the disability community is through my choreography which is intersectional and integrated. It is also more serious… although it captures the unique essences and virtuosities of the performers, it does not reveal the fullness of their lives including their playfulness and sense of fun. This event will do just that!

I am also thrilled to be working with George and Danniel and their remarkable organization. I believe in them wholeheartedly and their optimism is contagious. To be in such a public busy space is also an opportunity to turn people’s heads and introduce them to another way of “seeing” the disability community- to “see” them as people first.

Antwan Tolliver, Frenchy Minaj and Jessie Chin, creators of FROM THE THRONE podcast (C) From The Throne

From The Throne Podcast (Jessie Chin, Frenchy Minaj, and Antwan Tolliver)

The first all-inclusive disability event held at Rockefeller Center makes this history in every respect. Also, we all had been just genuinely curious to see what it’s like to skate for people in chairs. That's something we never even saw possible, it's truly exciting to think about.

Victor Calise, Paralympian and Director of Global Culture, Equity and Inclusion, Walmart

The Roll Out Jam is important because it blends disabled and non-disabled [people] in a fun, active outdoor event and who doesn't love to dance on wheels! Participating in Roll Out Jam allows me to dance with my disabled friends and family.

Jose Hernandez, President, United Spinal Association NYC

The Roll Out Jam is important because it provides a place where individuals with disabilities, especially those who use mobility devices like myself, [can] participate in skating in an integrated way where we all are enjoying our time in the roller skating rink. Being part of this event is also important to me because I am part of something groundbreaking going on in New York. I have never been on the skating rink at Rockefeller Center and for the first time I was able to see the world as everyone else who has been down there roller skating, and be free and able to live in the moment, not worried about my disability or my mobility device.

The mural envisioned by Giannina Gutierrez @artbygia and brought to life by Jasmine Castillo @producerjazz and Stefan Henry of Level the Curve @levelthecurve (C) Level the Curve

Giannina Gutierrez, Artist and Founder, Gia’s Yellow

Roll Out Jam is a super special event that I believe empowers and supports the disability community, creating visibility. Participating in this event is super special to me, some of my dearest friends and favorite people live with a disability and it's my pleasure to use my skills to support that community, using art to bridge the gap.

Stefan Henry, CEO, Level The Curve

It’s a great way to get the disabled community out into the public. It’s never been done before. It's a great way to get people with disabilities [into] things they may not have otherwise tried or thought was possible [and] for able bodied people to interact and learn with the disabled community in a fun and positive way.

For my participation, I’ve helped create an interactive mural with Giannina Guittierez and Jasmine Castillo. It will be a mural that’s about the community, completed by the community. Access Initiatives is one of the few organizations that truly try to include the community by making it interact with themselves and other communities. I think it will be beautiful.

Donald Lee, Company Member, Heidi Latsky Dance

Joy is where community begins. Nothing connects people more than music, dance and food! People often forget disabled joy is advocacy and a celebration of who we are. There aren’t many spaces where disabled folx get to groove and vibe together. Roll Out Jam is where is at. When we move together we create a movement together.  

Axis Project founder / Roll Out Jam organizer George Gallego with co-organizer Danniel Swatosh (C) Positive Exposure

What do you wish more people knew about living with a disability?

Arianny Kiernan-Ramirez

Yes, sometimes having a disability can sometimes be physically or emotionally challenging. However, the hardest part about dealing with disability is the societal barriers we face. The transportation barriers, the housing barriers, the healthcare barriers etc., are what make living with a disability the hardest and all those barriers are created by our society; they do not need to exist. If disability were not an afterthought in our world, our lives would be so much easier! For example, disability advocates have been fighting for centuries for new buildings, homes, airplanes etc., to be built with disability in mind. That would help people with disabilities travel safely and would help alleviate our current accessible housing shortage. Moreover, everyone else benefits from this as well: the elderly, pregnant people etc.

Jasmine Castillo, Producer, Level the Curve

I would like for more folks to know about the various abilities and access needs within the human spectrum. If you see someone with a physical disability it doesn’t mean they’re broken. For folks whose disability may not be physical but cognitive, behavioral, emotional, or sensory impaired, it’s essential for all of us to break the stereotypes, build awareness on how to communicate, and to create inclusive spaces.

Stefan Henry

[I wish more people knew about] the financial and life constraints people with disabilities have. The government handouts have a secret price to them in terms of your life.

Jose Hernandez

People living with disabilities are just like everyone else. We have the same fears the same aspirations and the same wants as our able-bodied counterparts. We just achieve those things a little bit differently. Some of us don't need much help but some of us need a significant amount of help doesn't mean that we don't want the same things. If we would all just look at the world through the lens of someone with a disability you would realize with some simple changes we all can live in an integrated society.

From The Throne Podcast

It is our wish that people understand that we are human beings who simply want to be treated as such, taking away the stigma attached to the term disabled. Disabled is not a bad word!

Heidi Latsky

I wish more people knew how complex, difficult, and vibrant it is.  I have worked, over the last 20 years, with so many people with disabilities and each one is so unique and spirited and many are pretty brilliant. I have learned that disabled people are like everyone else except that they deal with physical and emotional issues constantly. They have the fortitude to do that and I have gained insight into their struggles and their ultimate successes. Many people over the years have said to me that I have helped them so much when in fact this integrated inclusive work has helped me so much. It has broadened my choreography and allowed me to relax more when creating a new work. I have learned to trust myself more, to be open to others’ opinions and movements. Most of all, I know the work speaks to my value system as no other work has and that it moves audiences.

Ryan O’Neil

I wish more people knew that while some folks with disabilities are often viewed as strong and independent, that does not mean we do not need help or grace. Often I'm expected to "be like everyone else" but the fact is, I'm not.

Victor Calise

I wish more people knew that just because you are disabled you are not unable! Events like this allow me to show my true self through my disability.

Donald Lee

Disability is full of possibilities. Disabled folx tend to think outside of the box. What characterized us as different is the difference that makes life rewarding. Of course, there are daily obstacles. We are natural life hackers in a world not made for us. We disrupt industries and shake up policies to make the world more livable for everyone.

Axis Project team members (C) Positive Exposure

How would you like to see more avenues created for accessibility in the future?

Giannina Gutierrez

I would love to see more avenues for accessibility created by having more events like Roll Out Jam, that promote fun, creativity and accessibility.

Jose Hernandez

I would love to see more venues take steps to be a lot more inclusive of individuals with all types of disabilities. Taking small steps by providing accessible entrances and accessible bathrooms so that families of individuals with disabilities can bring their family members instead of excluding them. Parents with disabilities could bring their nondisabled child to participate in social events or school events. I would also like to see venues hire more individuals with disabilities because hiring a person with a disability changes the entire culture and mindset of a company. In general, inclusion and accessibility just make the world overall a better place for everyone.

Ryan O’Neil

I think those in power need to listen to those in need, that way the avenues for accessibility will be identified by those in need allowing the opportunity for change.

Arianny Kiernan-Ramirez

I love to go to festivals, concerts, art shows and fun, exciting events all around the country. Nevertheless, very few feel truly inclusive; for example, very few events include ADA details on the website. This then requires the extra work of finding a contact email or number to ask about their disability accessibility. Something as simple as adding ADA info to your event website/page makes us feel more welcome and included. I hope this event inspires similar events and engagement with the disability community. It is why events like this and the Axis project are so important. People with disabilities want to have to feel welcome and part of the community, have fun and Jam Out as well!

Victor Calise

I would love to see more events created for people with disabilities along with non-disabled people so we can show that anyone, regardless of who they are, that we have similar interests and we all like to have fun.

Jasmine Castillo

I would love to see more venues, green spaces that are not just only ADA accessible, but also implementing best practices, such as training staff on how to communicate with folks on the spectrum, having large print for folks who have l low vision, braille documents and wall labels outside of restrooms and entrances only, creating programming that have ASL translations and thinking about how events will be for all attendees. Events like Roll Out Jam make it fun, accessible, educational and more importantly inclusive.

Stefan Henry

We need more financial avenues so our lives aren't limited by our need to start under a certain income.

Donald Lee

Access is an evolving imperfect practice. People get frustrated and overwhelmed by the process of building an access practice. It doesn’t have to be that way. An inclusive society is a mindset that accessibility doesn’t need to be a burden. It’s an opportunity to be open. By that I mean be flexible - cognitively, emotionally, and dispositionally. To belong is to have self-awareness of others. Start there and the rest will follow.

Heidi Latsky

Accessibility comes in many forms. I believe we are advancing now with technology and communication devices so that creators know about them and how vital they are to their work. The problem that remains in regard to this is the cost. It can be cost prohibitive which is highly unfortunate in fields like mine where there are very limited resources. But, there is a pressing need for this accessibility to art and everyone seems to be aware of that now.  And we very much need presenters, venues, and creators to buy into this necessity so we can work together to ensure that the work is universal.

Accessibility is also the artists themselves. In my field, there are no dance institutions I know of where there is a cohort of disabled dancers. I have been struggling to find new dancers because of that. That needs to change so that the field can flourish and new artists can be groomed and taught who they are and what they want to do with their talents. I have personally coached many new disabled dancers and it is so gratifying to see them leave my company and fly solo or join other companies to keep exploring who they are. Some of them have attained great success already.

I believe theaters, museums, galleries, universities, and alternative venues need to educate themselves about true accessibility (because in my experience their knowledge so far is not complete) and move towards it. They need to talk to the disability community so that they find out from the source what true accessibility is. We all need to talk to each other more, to learn from our mistakes, challenges and when we “got it right”.  That communication will shift the landscape more fully and create beautiful safe spaces in which to work, collaborate and build exceptional art of all kinds.

The Roll Out Jam takes place on Sunday, September 17, 2023, 12-4PM at The Rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City. For more information and to book your tickets, click here. To learn more about The Axis Project, follow @axisprojectnyc on Instagram.

Axis Project team members (C) Positive Exposure

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Featured image: The Axis Project team and creators of The Roll Out Jam gather at Skate NYC at Rockefeller Center, presented by Flipper's Roller Boogie Palace (C) Positive Exposure