The Paideia School

Spring in Her Step

Elementary teacher Theresa Watkins spreads joy as a member of the East Atlanta 40+ Double Dutch Club.

K-1 teacher Theresa Watkins was recently featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta News First for her membership in the East Atlanta 40+ Double Dutch Club. This movement to get women 40+ moving and connecting has made headlines for its reignition of child-like joy.

Theresa Watkins and the East Atlanta 40+ Double Dutch Club
Theresa and the East Atlanta 40+ Double Dutch Club

At six-years-old, the same age as many of her current students, Theresa first learned to jump rope in the South Bronx. At age eleven, she competed in her first Double Dutch competition at Roberto Clemente State Park.

Like many women in the 40+ Double Dutch Club, Theresa stepped away from the game as she grew older but remembered the joy it brought her. In February 2023 she saw a video on Facebook posted by the woman who taught her Double Dutch. It was a group of women, wearing t-shirts bearing their names and ages, jumping Double Dutch. “They looked like they were having a lot of fun,” remembers Theresa. “I messaged my friend to ask about it and she sent me the details. The next week I attended my first meet-up with my local sub club.”

During these weekly meet-ups, women Double Dutch, hula hoop, hopscotch and more. Through their movement they have built a sisterhood that works together to support and engage the community. “I have gained lots of new friendships,” says Theresa. “We have our meet-ups every Sunday, but we also support other sub clubs locally and travel to other states to show support. We eat together, have game nights, birthday parties, bowling and sleepovers.”As a faith-based group the East Atlanta 40+ Double Dutch Club incorporates community service into its mission of fun, fitness, fellowship and friendship. “Last month, we delivered food and toiletries to Hosea Feed the Homeless,” recounts Theresa. “Next week we will visit a women’s prison for their family day. We will take the fun to them with our version of a grown-up playdate.”

Through the 40+ Double Dutch Club Theresa has reconnected with the joy of her childhood, a joy that she brings to her teaching, whether she is working with her K-1 students here at Paideia or with women learning to jump Double Dutch. “There are women who come to meet-ups who may not have jumped since they were little or who have never jumped Double Dutch before. We demonstrate and teach them how to do it. Just like teaching my students to read, we meet the women where they are because they are at different levels,” Theresa observes. “They might need to start with a single rope to practice getting their feet off the ground repeatedly or they may get it on their first try. The instruction is tailor-made for them. The look of absolute joy on their faces when they learn to jump is amazing.”

Learn more about the East Atlanta 40+ Double Dutch Club and watch Theresa in action.

Video: Theresa warming up!