Mentoring Madness

We want to let you know about a new group we organize in Atlanta called the Laboratory for Intergenerational Learning.  These are questions members wish to ask of one another:

  1. What style of learning would be most effective for your child, student, resident, patient or loved one?
  2. What physical, visual, motor or cognitive impairments are important to manage?
  3. Would a therapeutic recreational activity enhance your care setting or lifestyle in some way?
  4. What kinds of specialized training in cognition or memory care might interest you?
  5. Are you curious about intergenerational learning opportunities?

These are the top categories we are targeting for membership:

Alzheimer’s Disease · Parenting & Family · Mental Health Counselors · Social Gaming · Early Diagnosis Dementia · Caregivers to Seniors · Family Outdoor Recreation · Sandwich Generation · Adults Taking Care of Aging Parents · Young Onset Alzheimer’s Disease · Occupational Therapy · Holistic Health · Cognitive Behavior Therapy – CBT · Improving Memory · Autism and Asperger’s

As a sidenote, our Facebook community group, Intergenerational Learning, is worldwide, so we welcome you, your staff and volunteers to share ideas with us about social mentoring and group learning. We sincerely hope to continue building relationships together outside our region and look forward to future conversations.

The organizers are very new to the aging services community, but truly feel the wonderful game of chess can and will benefit families and groups.  The game of chess is being unearthed in a new and balanced way to improve social interactions. Chess is being adapted to exploit metacognition (learning to learn) and situational analysis.  As a result, family relationships may be strengthened and channels to personal growth developed. “Chess Therapy” as its been called builds on strong breakthrough energies as the power of the game becomes a gateway to understanding the natural world.

If you have a taste for intrigue, or learning about chess for the very first time (we hope you are), we encourage you to explore the game of chess through a Canadian television series released in 2011 called Endgame. Shown in the series as a set of “life lessons”, we hope you enjoy Endgame as much as we have.  The game’s enduring principles have been handed down through tireless generations in search for what lies beneath the surface in so many aspects of our lives.  This is a social mentoring program for creating intergenerational bonds that we feel are so important with an increasingly aging society that will soon be lost.

Through life’s journey we may reflect on and refine our decisions.  Life is a game, but not one of chance.  It is a struggle for balance, simplicity, interdependence and goodwill. The process of learning the game of chess even still is experimental and is really a laboratory for learning the game of life.  The endgame has no end in sight.  Chess offers a lifetime of opportunity to learn, enjoy and teach this truly remarkable game.

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The game of chess is being unearthed in a new and balanced way to improve social interactions.
Chess painting by Elke Rehder

A laboratory for learning awaits us here.

New Frontiers

I’ve been offered a lot of encouragement from the staff at a nursing center and family members to continue to grow our community outreach.  The center offers physical therapy and cares for patients who require a brief stay to recover from surgery.  The center also offers long-term care for those experiencing memory, mobility or other physical challenges.  Dedication and patience has been a key ingredient in working with these folks.  We’ve taken a step back since publishing New Tricks in Their Final Stages last year discussing hospice care and have set some time aside to talk about some of the latest happenings with Chess Made Fun.

Family involvement is the cornerstone of what we bring to our community.  Working with residents’ families has been an inspiration without the need for setting mental goals and instead letting the process of learning chess unfold on its own.  Participation has increased during the last several weeks and is more consistent that ever.  Although we are “ginnie pigging” our experimentation with aging communities the time has been well spent and feel we are breaking some new ground here.  Our activity director at the center has even gone so far as to say that she would like to see “bingo night” slowly phased out and replaced with games like chess that are more mentally stimulating than games of chance.  She is discussing this idea with members of the National Council of Certified Activity Professionals (NCCAP) during their annual convention held in Virginia Beach, VA this year.

Although games like bingo are games of chance, Chess Made Fun stands by its purpose in making any activity fun and familiar and makes prizes or even tournament play an important aspect to keep interest in the games as high as we can.  Mini-games like the Pawns Game allow everyone to win almost everyday!  Inter-generational play is also made possible through the involvement of local chess clubs throughout Georgia.  It so happens that one of our residents is a computer specialist and tutors special needs kids.  One of his students is an aspiring chess player and wants to join in the fun working with the elderly at the nursing center.

We will continue to track participation and progress with our chess program and may even publish some relevant metrics should we decide to pursue further research in the area of recreation therapy.

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Chess Coach Needed in Atlanta

I know a reputable chess instructor who would like to add at least one new chess coach to work four afternoons per week to assist with chess in after-school programs.  Program times differ for each school, but only require being onsite each day for 1 1/2 hours.

The pay is weekly and private chess lessons will be offered to the person selected. Coaching candidates must be able to pass a school required background check and have experience working with groups of children.  Strong communication skills are a must.  These coaches must also be reliable.  Chess afternoon programs are set by each school and typically are 20 weeks per year.

The chess instructor also has summer camps that offer extra hours a few weeks in June and July.  If you are interested send me a brief description of your experience to ChessMadeFun@gmail.com

Please also pass along a resume and availability Monday – Friday.  I will pass your information on to the chess instructor hiring for this position.

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A Mixed Bag

My wife’s a chess coach.  I told her the other day that I have some free time to help her out.  We ended up in a huge game of team chess at one of her schools.  This was my first interaction with more experienced kids in her after school programs.  This was also the first time I’ve played chess outside on a large patio chess board.  It was a lot of fun.

One of the coolest things about the experience was that the squares on the board were not notated.  Every time the black team or white tea

m had to make a move they had to call each move out in correct notation.  The time it took for twenty excited kids to shout  “King captures E4” actually had a calming effect on them.  This process made the game one of great precision and quality because it gave them time to think about their next move.

Communication skills developed from playing team chess outdoors are unmatched. The solace of a video game said one of our kids is a great escape however as the pressure builds.  Even with wonderful weather it’s great to rotate the kids indoors when the game “gets interesting” to keep the competitive spirit intact.  Team leaders always make themselves known.  It’s good to assign someone else to call the next move.  This has been my experience so far.

I’ve helped Yvonne on Friday afternoons with some of the younger kids in her developmental classes.  I have a little more experience than Yvonne playing kids in tournaments though.  This doesn’t mean I’ve had better results beating them.  She played in her first tournament last Friday.  I told her I would support her from the sidelines this time.  A pitcher of margaritas before a tournament is not the kind of fun I need.  It’s not what this blog is about.

Back to the other kids at school.  School is out for two weeks.  I wrote down all twenty-eight moves have been played so far.  We’ll finish the game on a demonstration board when the kids return from their break.  We can figure out what the losing team can do to have the advantage in the next outdoor game.

I’ll also follow-up with the results here in my next blog entry.

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Chillin… on a Saturday afternoon! Warren and Yvonne in Marietta, GA grabbin’ some grub!