Chess Peace Initiative
Project Launch:Guinea Grass is a predominately Spanish-speaking village of 3,000 in the Orange Walk District of Belize. Over the years as the village has grown, politics, religion, ethnicity, and class divisions have emerged. Home to two public primary schools and one private school funded by American missionaries, Guinea Grass’ youth are not immune to the religious and political distinctions in their community. With their limited training, teachers struggle to create classroom lessons relevant to their students’ real life experiences and tensions can mount between teachers and students, preventing them from connecting as a community. Many youth choose not to continue their education beyond primary school. A $225 grant from World Connect’s Kids to Kids program in 2009 supported The Chess Peace Initiative, which used chess to teach students life skills, helping them to practice critical thinking, analyze actions and consequences, express creativity, employ problem-solving strategies, create goals, and develop intellectual maturity, discipline, and perseverance. The initiative not only built chess skills but also promoted the development of new friendships and support systems. Strong life skills will help youth stave off the influences of violence, drug, and alcohol abuse, and become positive members of their community.
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