Chess Helps Students with Special Needs

Chess Helps Students with Special Needs

Bridgepoint Academy, located just outside of Chicago, Illinois, is a unique place that helps young adults with special needs (ages 16-21) transition from school to adulthood. By focusing on fostering each student’s life goals, Bridgepoint Academy emphasizes community-based instruction to expose students to “real situations.”

One such situation presented itself at the New Lenox Public Library a few months ago. The students happened upon a meeting of an informal chess club and asked to play. According to their teacher, Amanda Price, “We’ve been going ever since.”

The chess club, initiated by Jim Marchert, meets once a week and is made up of a small group of retired men. “It’s nice to have the young blood come in and join us,” says Marchert. “Whenever one of us old-timers plays one of them, we try to give them a couple pointers along the way to help them with their game.”

The game is not the only thing the chess club members help the students learn. Students also pick up on social cues and learn etiquette, such as shaking hands with an opponent after a match. These social skills will prove valuable as the students go on to meet their transition goals. Until then, Marchert says, “We’re glad to have them.”


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