October 20th, 2020

Chess for Life program gets helping hand


By Bobinec, Greg on January 27, 2020.

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

The University of Lethbridge Chess for Life program is looking forward to expanding its work following a donation of $8,300 from 100 Women Who Care, Lethbridge.

“We are incredibly grateful for this donation,” says Lance Grigg, associate professor in the Faculty of Education and founder of the Chess for Life program.

“The funds are and will be used for a number of expansion projects, including ongoing work with schools in Lethbridge and youth who are sentenced to Chess for Life by Alberta Justice. We offer the program here at the U of L, but we’re also looking at offering the program at two sites downtown.”

100 Women Who Care, Lethbridge hold four fundraisers a year and each time, they randomly choose three local organizations from those nominated by their membership. The three finalists are invited to present to the group, where they then vote to determine the winning organization.

“The Chess for Life team was so passionate about their cause when they presented to us,” says Sandra Asuchak, co-founder of 100 Women Who Care. “The program itself seems simple, yet so powerful. It’s incredible how much a game of chess can help adults and children alike. I believe our members appreciated the fact that their donations would be going to a program that can help those similar in age to their children and grandchildren.”

Chess for Life was created in 2018 out of a conversation between Grigg and a local judge. Grigg brought up the possibility of learning to play chess as an alternative sentence for youth involved in the criminal justice system. The program was set up to run only until the end of May last year, but the program showed positive results and demand for the program grew.

“The program has grown amazingly,” says Grigg. “We’re really focusing on Lethbridge and area, making sure that is all solid and consistent. The probation officers have been absolutely fantastic.”

The Chess for Life team continues to work with 15 to 50 youth who are at odds with the law and offers chess instruction in five elementary schools in Lethbridge. Since September, the team has also worked with students at Red Crow Community College at both campuses in Lethbridge and Standoff. In addition, the Chess for Life team is working with the Lethbridge Correctional Centre to get a chess program started there.

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