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.