Canada Tries New Tack for Young Offenders: Chess

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A pilot program by Alberta, Canada’s Ministry of Justice is using chess as part of a unique alternative sentence for non-violent juvenile offenders, reports The Conversation. Created in partnership with the University of Lethbridge, Chess for Life is a 25-hour instruction program led by longtime chess players. Participants learn opening, middle and end-game strategies while playing against the program leaders and each other. The goal is for the youths to develop skills in reasoning, problem-solving, planning, focusing and decision-making.

Since January, juvenile offenders have been playing chess each Friday afternoon on the Lethbridge campus. An interactive white board shows a game in progress. Off to the side, another board is set up with a “chess problem.” A research team led by Monique Sedgwick and Jeffrey MacCormack is conducting a study to determine what impact learning to play chess has on self-regulatory functions and on the life choices youth make.

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