Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cayo District Coordinator: David Coombs
Contact info:

Chess Camps in West Cayo

Since March last year, the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation (BNYCF) led by Ella and Ian Anderson has been promoting the game of chess in Primary schools. The main idea behind this initiative is to use chess as a tool to enhance a wide range of social and academic skills.

The Chess Olympiad held in Belmopan on May 3rd was a national competition organized by the BNYCF, there were a total of 144 primary school children taking part in 36 teams. There were four teams from Cayo District three of these were from the Belmopan area, only one team was from the area west of Belmopan. To address this lack of chess clubs in this large area a stage one training for teachers was held in May and it was attended by teachers from seven schools. Following on from that, there was an effort to organize four summer chess programs for children from these schools.

Mr. David Coombs who has been involved with the BNYCF since it began, arranged to teach four chess programs in the west Cayo area during July and August 2008. Each one was held over five mornings. The first at the R.C. school in Succotz. The second at the Bishop O.P. Martin school in San Ignacio. Thirdly in the Santa Elena Primary school and finally at the Ontario Christian School.
Each week Mr. Coombs was assisted by teachers from each of the schools with the aim of the participating students and teachers starting a chess club at each school in September. During each week the students, who almost all had no knowledge of chess beforehand, were taught the basic moves and rules of chess. By Thursday of each week the children were playing a complete game of chess. At the end of each week students were awarded certificates of achievement. A total of 37 students participated. The next challenge is for those teachers and students to practice for a local competition that will be held in January.

To fund these chess weeks an appeal was made to some local and national businesses, apart from the expenses of running the programs the main objective of the fundraising was to purchase four chess sets for each of the participating schools so they can begin the club.

The summer activities were supported by the B.N.Y.C.F. Donations were received from; Atlantic Bank Ltd, BelizeTelemedia, Ms. Pamella Picon/Belize Christian Ministry, Orange Gifts, Chaa Creek, San Ignacio Hotel, St. Martins Credit Union, Bowen and Bowen. A big thanks to these businesses for assisting in the development of our children.

To move Cayo District forward in the effort to compete against the best young chess players in Belize a meeting will be scheduled in October in San Ignacio or Santa Elena at a location to be announced. If you are a chess player or interested in getting involved with the game please email David Coombs at for further information about the meeting. An announcement will also be placed in newspapers.

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