Playing Chess in School Helps Ferguson Kids Heal, Hope, Excel
Third-grade teacher Wyntra Storms, a mentor to the young chess players, said the unrest that followed the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 was difficult on the kids. She said many still tear up when they talk about it.
The chess club is making a difference, helping rebuild their confidence, she said.
"They are learning to focus," Storms said. "A lot of them, when we first mentioned chess, said, 'I can't do that. I'm not smart enough.' They found out they could do it, and it really excites them."
Tony Rich, executive director of the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center, said chess has an unfounded stigma as a sport for the wealthy or elite. In fact, it's inexpensive, easy to teach and fun for kids from all walks of life, he said.
"It gives them the opportunity to realize, 'I can be smart and accomplish things,'" Rich said.
Early evidence from the after-school chess program is encouraging, Ascension officials said. A survey of participants showed that:
- 85% of them look forward to school more on days when they have the chess club;
- 94 % say chess has taught them that they can complete difficult tasks with enough effort;
- 92% say it has made them more confident in the ability to learn difficult material.
Source: Amid turmoil, chess helps Ferguson kids cope, excel via AP Big Story