Ropes of Hope tries to turn the violent tide in the streets of Oakland one step at a time

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OAKLAND — Night after night, reports of the growing wave of violent crime in Oakland have been reported, but two local women use two ropes to bring hope and make their community a better place.

On the corner of Telegraph & 18th, amid the bustling pubs and overcrowded clubs, there’s another party going on. All it needs is just two ropes and hope. While some of these jumpers are quite skilled, others are jumping in for the first time.

They call themselves “Jump Squad 510.” It’s a new crew, created last year by Ariel Loudd.

“That was something we did growing up and we lost that sport here in Oakland,” Loudd explained. “And I tried to bring it back. And when we bring it back, let’s bring it back in a very meaningful way by building a culture around it.”

Some of the plow for existence principles have nothing to do with skipping rope, but have a more serious tone.

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“I’m here to help de-escalate problems, aggression, violence and alcoholism,” Loudd said. “It’s reducing the drugs that are in their system. And I’m sticking with that. It’s nothing we can do to stop people from doing what they’re doing.”

Loudd knows she can’t stop anyone from drinking and taking drugs. But she did find a way to tame the side effects for some people before it’s too late.

“We’re so busy criticizing them for what they’re doing, instead of really finding a legitimate way to happily help them at the time,” Loudd said. “I don’t want to see you in jail if I can prevent that by probably having you skipping rope for a few hours and getting a little sober instead of driving or doing damage.”

Maliaka Hill has been on the water with Loudd twice since they were little girls, here in Oakland, just a few blocks away.

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“The positive impact it has on our youth, on our community, on the adults around us, you know, and on what we send out into the Earth,” Hill says. “And it sure is a lot of fun.”

Eight months ago, Jump Squad started going to Lake Merritt and performing at various community events and even elementary schools. But every Friday and Saturday, Loudd and Hill twist these ropes through the night in downtown Oakland.

“Why not join the club,” explains Hill. “It makes you sober, it’s such a positivity, there are so many people cheering for you. You feel good after you jump off the ropes because it’s like damn you have a little Double Dutch family here. “

Finding a sense of family with strangers on the street, sharing their childhood joy of just jumping rope.

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Some people even put down their drinks and picked up new tricks.

“When she got here, she was trying to do her pop-ups up and down,” Loudd explains about teaching a passerby how to jump stronger. “Now she’s got it and she’s happy and having a good time. That’s what matters.”

If you spend a few hours with Jump Squad 510, you can easily see the connection and the positivity.

“Everyone helps each other now, listen, they help each other,” Loudd said. “You build your full-body coordination. Networking with people and achieving goals you never thought you could.”

For more information: Intstagram: @jumpsquad510 or TikTok: @jumpsquad510

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