Chess Summer Experience
The Chicago Public Schools Department of Academic Competitions and Renaissance Knights in partnership with the Chicago Police Department hosted a three week Cops & Kids Experience at Whitney Young Magnet High School, from July 14 to August 4, 2017. Chicago Police officers and CPS students from Chicago Christian Academy, Kelly High School, Payton, and Whitney Young collaborated for three weeks of activities that included acquiring new chess strategies, gaining exposure to college, having a voice, and also building positive relationships with police officers and each other. “Cops and Kids” is a new initiative intended to foster relationships with officers and students in hopes of reducing violence and altering students’ perspectives of police officers. This pilot program is designed to unify “Cops and Kids” with conversation surrounding strategies that will promote respect among youth and police as they learn from each other to create a stronger community.
The Chess Experience was a tremendous success; police officers and students raved about the program and engagement opportunity. The students participated in a variety of activities in addition to chess such as: chess play twice weekly with police officers, weekly lessons from chess masters, guest speakers that focused on anti-bullying, literacy, oral and written expression, Chicago historical architectural boat tour, college prep workshop, college tour to the University of Chicago, tour of Hyde Park’s historical landmarks and chess parks , and viewed chess related movies (Queen of Katwe and Knights to the South Bronx) that culminated with group discussions. The three week camp concluded with an extended peace circle led by the Chicago Police Department.
While enhancing their chess skills and building new relationships, students were equipped with the tools necessary to create and promote peace in their home and school communities, build positive relationships, and enhance their leadership skills by teaching peers and police officers the game of chess. The anticipated outcomes were met as each student who participated gained a wealth of useful information that will hopefully transform their lives and community for the better, one chess move at a time.