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Women find community and "peace of mind" with 40+ Double Dutch Club

Women find freedom through Double Dutch
Women find freedom through Double Dutch 04:00

Our series, A More Perfect Union, aims to show that what unites us as Americans is far greater than what divides us. In this installment, we're taking a trip down memory lane to the days when jumping Double Dutch was a go-to pastime for African-American girls.

For most African-American girls growing up in the '70s, '80s and '90s, Double Dutch was a part of the culture. Now, one woman is reintroducing the game and bringing thousands of women together nationwide.

"This was back in the day where we played outside," 49-year-old Pamela Robinson told CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste. "While the boys were playing basketball, we were jumping Double Dutch ... jumping all day until the streetlights came on."

"For young black girls, what did Double Dutch provide that other avenues didn't?" Battiste asked.

"There was, like, a sense of community because girls would just get together and you form friendships with — sometimes you didn't even have to know the girls you were jumping with because it was a commonality that we all shared," Robinson said.

That sense of community is what Robinson reignited in suburban Chicago with the 40+ Double Dutch Club.

"We put on old-school music and they're singing, they're dancing, we're talking, and it's just like old times," she said. 

Robinson's idea was sparked by a tough time in her life. "For a long time, I wasn't really sure what my purpose was … I'm an empty-nester and I'm going through a divorce right now. So I didn't know what my purpose was because I always felt like it was to be a great wife and mother," she said.

Looking for a place to forget her troubles, she started the weekly Double Dutch meetups in 2016. She hoped others would love the sound of the rope hitting the ground as much as her.

"There've been women who've said, 'Yeah, my husband told me he wanted me to make dinner, but I said, I gotta go to Double Dutch. I can make dinner when I get home. … I'm not missing Double Dutch."

The club now boasts over 6,000 members from all over the country, many of whom turned up last month for the first annual Double Dutch party and convention.

"When you're jumping, I'm not anyone's mom. I'm not a business owner. I don't have to do chores. I'm in a place where everything was simple. And it just feels good," said club member Kandi Brown.

For all the women, Double Dutch goes beyond just jumping rope.

"What does Double Dutch give you that nothing else can?" Battiste asked.

"Peace of mind," said Antoinette Marshall.

"Yeah, peace of mind — freedom," Iesha Jackson said.

They've made new friends and found a support system. "I've been — we've both been through a lot. And she's been my rock," Marshall said about Jackson.

Robinson also now has thousands of new friends. "I'm bringing all of these women together. And they are loving, not only each other, but the fact that they're getting healthy and they're enjoying themselves doing it," she said.

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