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Chess4Change: Raising Young Geniuses

Chess4Change: Raising Young Geniuses

 Sarah Iniewe

In Nigeria, children from underprivileged backgrounds face many challenges in accessing quality education and extracurricular activities that promote their intellectual and social development. 

One programme that has been significantly impactful in this area is the Chess4Change yearly event.

Launched by PwC in 2014, Chess4Change aims to connect people from diverse backgrounds and leverage chess as a tool for social change in alignment with the company’s vision. The programme’s primary goal is to positively impact young secondary school kids by teaching them chess and promoting valuable life skills. 

The programme has been operating in various communities across Lagos, Nigeria, with support from the Lagos state government, including the Ministry of Education, the Lagos Sports Commission, and the Lagos State Chess Association. 

Last year’s edition of the Chess4Change featured a novelty contest between students of the Chess4Change programme and Chess in Slums Africa, helping to build goodwill within the chess community.

 The event was held in the Majidun community of Ikorodu, Lagos. It featured exciting matches, showcasing the skills and talent of young chess players from mostly disadvantaged backgrounds taking center stage at the mentally stimulating dance of strategy on black and white boards.

The yearly programme by PwC is focused on supporting kids in public secondary schools, which may raise the question of why this particular group is targeted. The answer lies in the fact that these kids are the most in need of support and encouragement. Many of them come from low-income families, while others may live with distant relatives or random helpers. Due to the challenges they face in their daily lives, these kids often experience mental lows and may struggle to maintain focus on their studies.

 Therefore, the PwC initiative gives secondary school students in underserved areas opportunities to receive mentorship from PwC staff. 

Through its support of the Chess4Change initiative, PwC is helping to provide underprivileged kids with an opportunity to learn and compete chess, promoting cognitive development, social skills, and mental well-being. 

By focusing on kids in public secondary schools, the auditing firm is keeping true to its CSR policy by making a significant and sustainable impact in the lives of those who are most in need of support, empowering them with valuable life skills that are essential for success in any area of life. 

Previous winners of the Chess4Change Grand Slam express gratitude to the audit giant for sponsoring the event. Ramon Idowu, the winner of the sixth edition, thanks the sponsors for supporting their chess talents. Moyino-luwa Lawal pleaded with the firm to continue its efforts in nurturing chess geniuses. Fourteen-year-old Iheanyichukwu Michael, the winner of the seventh edition, proudly expresses his joy, attributing his win in the seventh edition to tireless practice. 

The programme demonstrates the positive impact of extracurricular activities on the social and mental well-being of the young participants. It is also a pointer to chess’s impact in empowering children and redirecting their energies toward mentally stimulating contests.

Playing chess fosters connections, friendships, and healthy competition among participants. Chess4Change has provided a platform for these young ones to learn sportsmanship, discipline, and hard work, which are essential values in any life endeavor.

 Chess requires focus, concentration, and strategic thinking, which can help children develop resilience and emotional regulation. It has also proven to positively impact mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. These skills are particularly important for the more disadvantaged kids, who may face more significant challenges in their daily lives.

The programme has also been successful in promoting inclusion and diversity, with participants from several backgrounds and experiences. Through the programme, children have been able to learn about and appreciate different cultures, religions, and traditions which are the fabrics that shape our world.

The highly anticipated eighth edition of the Chess4Change series will commence this May with a press conference, and coaching session, followed by the mentorship scheme, mini-challenge scheme, and the grand slam tournament. As always, this year’s event promises to be a thrilling competition.

Over the years, various schools have participated in the tournament, with King’s College holding the championship title for four consecutive years until Lagos City College claimed the championship cup in 2018. The following year, Birrel Avenue Senior High School emerged victorious, and Lagos City College reclaimed its title in 2021.

The current holder of the championship title from last year’s tournament is Iheanyichukwu Michael from Ireti Senior Grammar School, Ikoyi. With the upcoming tournament, the burning question on everyone’s mind is which school will emerge victorious this year and claim the coveted crown. All eyes will be on the battleground as the schools compete to showcase their strategic thinking and chess skills.

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