A Sisterhood Empowering Women through Fun and Fitness

More than just a recreational club, the 40+ Double Dutch Club is a sisterhood has a powerful mission: to empower women in mental health and physical fitness while fostering friendship, fun, and fellowship.

A Sisterhood Empowering Women through Fun and Fitness
Sisters of the Double Dutch club celebrate their recent award which was sponsored, in part, by Atlantic City Focus Photo Credit: Mark Tyler

In South Jersey, a remarkable group of women has found a unique way to escape the pressures of adulthood and rediscover the simple joys of childhood. Meet the South Jersey SubClub of the 40+ Double Dutch Club, where women 40+ gather regularly to jump Double Dutch, hula hoop, play hopscotch, and engage in other nostalgic activities.

South Jersey SubClub of the 40+ Double Dutch Club. Videography Credit: Mark Tyler

More than just a recreational club, this sisterhood has a powerful mission: to empower women in mental health and physical fitness while fostering friendship, fun, and fellowship.

The origins of the South Jersey SubClub trace back to 2019 when Vernell Prince, a Philadelphia native and South Jersey resident, became a member of the 40+ Double Dutch Club via Facebook. Every Saturday, Prince would make the journey across the Ben Franklin Bridge to join her Philadelphia sisters in jumping Double Dutch.

Vernell Prince receives Ladies in the Arts Award. Photo Credit: Lamar Roberts

It wasn't long before Kamise Thompson, a Camden native, approached Prince with the idea of starting a SubClub in South Jersey. Together, they founded the South Jersey SubClub of the 40+ Double Dutch Club, which has since flourished under their leadership.

In May of 2016, the 40+ Double Dutch Club was born from a desire to find a "happy place" amidst the stresses of adult life. The club began with a simple Facebook post by Pamela Robinson and Catrina Dyer-Taylor, inviting friends to come out and jump. What started as a small group of Chicago-area women has now grown into a global phenomenon, with over 10,000 members and more than 100 SubClubs worldwide.

40+ Double Dutch Club logo. Photo Credit: Lamar Roberts

When asked how the South Jersey SubClub stands apart from other Double Dutch groups, Prince replied: "We aren't a competitive team, we are a unified sisterhood focused on empowering women in mental health and physical fitness."

The club's meetings are filled with love, laughter, and encouragement, creating a supportive environment where members can relax and be themselves.

At South Jersey SubClub meetings, members participate in various activities, including Double Dutch, hula hooping, childhood hand games, hopscotch, and even the 40+ DDC slide line dance.

However, beyond the fun and games, the club has had a profound impact on its members' lives. "It's brought women together and formed friendships that may have never existed otherwise," Prince reflects. "Women have become more active, more social, and have found a purpose that helps them get through their week."

Despite facing challenges, such as balancing diverse schedules and backgrounds, the club remains committed to its mission of empowering women and engaging with the broader community. Through community service and appearances at health and educational events, the South Jersey SubClub strives to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

In overcoming the challenges, "we formed a small committee that includes my CoCaptain, Kamise Thompson (Resident Social Worker), Kisha Smith (Event Organizer), Sha Barbour (Secretary), Chellee Pernell (Resident Nurse), Jacqueline Glass (Minister of Spiritual Support) and myself," Prince said. "Collectively we are South Jersey’s Care & Comfort Committee. We send greeting cards to acknowledge birthdays or send get well wishes, submit prayer requests, provide social service resources, or just provide a listening ear."

In a recent milestone, the 40+ Double Dutch Club was honored with the Ladies in the Arts Award at the 3rd annual ceremony sponsored, in part, by Atlantic City Focus. Glass was the emcee who got the crowd warmed up before the performance at the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University in Atlantic City.

Jacqueline Glass, Minister of Spiritual Support and emcee of the award show demonstration of the South Jersey SubClub of the 40+ Double Dutch Club. Photo Credit: Mark Tyler

“I think the importance of the Double Dutch club is to be in community with women who are older,” said Glass.  “Since Covid there seems to be isolation and I think for our emotional health we need to be in community. There’s also the importance of adult play, reliving childhood memories and creating new ones.”

(Others honored at the Ladies in the Arts Award included: Patrice Hawthorn, Annette Smith/Brown Sugar, Joyce Hagen, Shoanne Sejas, April Williams, Nettie Long Poetry, Professor Pamela Fields, Loreal Vintage, the Atlantic City Chapter of The Links, the Sip and Discuss Podcast and Anne Glapion. In addition to the Ladies in the Arts Awards given Shermaine Gunter-Gary and Stephenine Dixon were presented with Outstanding Ladies in Leadership Awards.)

Raymond Tyler, the Atlantic City Focus Arts & Entertainment Editor and an Atlantic City Arts Commissioner, expressed admiration for the club's mission. "As we get older, one of the hardest things to do is to keep moving and stay as active as we were in our twenties," he said. "The founder of the 40+ Double Dutch Club, Pamela Robinson, not only rekindled her joy but created a platform where women of all ages 40+ can go back to the playground games that brought them joy."

This sisterhood stands as a beacon of joy, friendship, and empowerment for women over 40 and beyond.

(This story was produced as part of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University's South Jersey Information Equity Project fellowship and supported with funding from the Independence Public Media Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the NJ Civic Information Consortium.)


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