Newsletter no.5 - March 2017 - Project Over 50's

 

Teaching Chess to the Older Person by CSC Tutor Jon Lloyd

January 2017

 

Jon Lloyd is a CSC tutor in Berkshire and Surrey who has been active in the voluntary sector for vulnerable adults over the last 15 years and recognised the potential value of the Chess in Schools program for use in the wider adult community. In 2015 Jon successfully approached CSC with a proposal for teaching chess to older people in order to help maintain or improve cognitive functions [thinking skills] and socialisation.

 

 
   
 
   

Training for cognitive skills has been shown to improve cognitive abilities that diminish with age. Chess is particularly helpful for improving cognitive skills such as reasoning, problem solving and speed of processing.

 

Jonís idea was to use chess to both aid cognitive ability and also combat loneliness, a problem on a national scale which has only recently been receiving the attention, if not the resources it deserves.

 

Silverline, a UK charity devoted to providing 24 hour a day / 7 days a week support to lonely older people, have received 920,000 calls since their call centre was founded in November 2012, 53% of the callers saying they have no one else to talk to.

 

 
   

They receive 10,000 calls every week from lonely and isolated people. Chess could be an ideal way of bringing people together.

 

Jon approached his local council, Bracknell Forest Borough Council [BFBC] to support a chess program for older people in local libraries. BFBC recognises that loneliness among adults [particularly in men] is the single biggest concern for social welfare in their borough. They were very willing to participate in a program of teaching chess to older residents as part of their self-care year. In conjunction with CSC, BFBC helped raise £2000 in lottery funding to support this program.

 

The teaching of chess to older people will broadly follow the curriculum devised for teaching chess to children by building chess knowledge from mini-games. A 10 week course of one hour per week has been devised and this will be run at four libraries or resource centres across the borough, the first starting on 27th January. Participants will be encouraged to continue playing after the course has finished. Any potential trainers will be identified for further training by CSC and Jon in order to spread teaching of chess to other older people in the borough.

 

Reading University are being approached to measure the success of the program. The program of teaching chess to older people went live in BFBC on 4th January 2017 with a poster advertising the program being sent to local community centres, voluntary groups, libraries and GP surgeries.

     
 

 
     

It is very much hoped that the program will lead to the wider Bracknell community playing chess, perhaps even schoolchildren playing against adults, something which worked out spectacularly well in New York a couple of years ago.

 

The possibilities for social engagement within the borough are huge. This program starts with a well founded enthusiasm for social change.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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