by Patheresa Wells
The slap of jump ropes rhythmically hitting the ground and the sound of the “Cha Cha Slide” played in the background on Saturday, Oct. 30, as children laughed and ran around the racks of coats and winter clothes at the Southwest Boys & Girls Club in White Center. Families toting kids of all ages, as well as a diverse group of local neighborhood residents, came out to attend the First Annual Coat and Clothes Drive held by The Double Dutch Divas. The local organization brings the sport of double Dutch to the community to support healthy living and connection.
The event was a collaborative effort between The Divas; the Boys & Girls Club; Girltrek, a nonprofit that promotes women’s health through daily walking; and the Sparks Neighborhood Matching Fund from the City of Seattle.
The Double Dutch Divas spent months collecting clothes, coats, and shoes to hand out at the event. With a cold, rainy fall — and increased economic insecurity due to the pandemic — upon us, it was important to this group to make sure people are outfitted warmly during the upcoming winter months. But The Divas didn’t stop there. In order to make their vision of “unity in the community” a reality, they made sure the drive included the fun, energy, and movement The Divas are known for.
A DJ played music, refreshments were served, volunteers taught double Dutch, and local chef Michael Bourbon sent attendees home with a hot meal. All in all, the event was a chance for folks to build community.
Angela Mosley, 44, the founder of Double Dutch Divas, says that she started the organization in May 2021 to bring people together. People would see her family double Dutching at Stan Sayres Memorial Park and ask to join them. So The Divas created opportunities for the community to do that.
The Divas now have about 15 active jumpers as part of their group who bring the sport of double Dutch to Seattle-area schools and community events like the Coat and Clothes Drive and the Halloween Boo Bash held the following Sunday at Rainier Beach. Their goal is to help people of all ages enjoy the benefits that jumping rope can provide from physical fitness, improved mental health, and the ability to connect with others around a shared goal: the excitement that comes when you jump.
Mosley says double Dutch brings people together because anyone can do it. For many, double Dutch is an activity that started in childhood, so Mosley says it’s a way to “reclaim history.”
Diva Secret Ford, 50, is one of those who learned to double Dutch in childhood at 5 years old and jumps with The Divas today. She loves how simple it is to get started. “You don’t have to use electronics and battery-powered equipment,” she said.
Mosley recognized when she returned to double Dutch as an adult that jumping rope could be more than exercise, it became a sort of therapy for her, movement that she could count on to enjoy, which is one aspect she hopes to bring to others. “It’s a way to work out, have fun at the same time, and be around your family [and] friends and bring joy [to them],” she said.
The jubilation that double Dutch brings is what got Melanie O’Brien, a sophomore at Chief Sealth International High School, involved with the group. O’Brien says, “It’s actually been a joy to me to see [jumping rope make] other people happy.”
Joy was in high supply at the event Saturday. Between jumping rope, line dancing to the music supplied by DJ Guy Davis, and people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying themselves together, the Coat and Clothes Drive brought a much needed layer of warmth to the South Seattle community.
If you would like to learn more about The Double Dutch Divas or join them jumping, you can find more information out via their Facebook group.
Editors’ Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the founder of The Double Dutch Divas as “Andrea Mosley.” This article was updated on 11/03/2021 with the correct name of “Angela Mosley.”
Patheresa Wells is a Queer poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in creative writing. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.
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