Stockton, CA - Lenard Seawood, an Army veteran and chess enthusiast, has been using the game of chess to make a positive impact on the lives of children in Stockton through his nonprofit startup, Every Move Counts.
Seawood's journey with chess began during his time in the Army in the early 1980s when a fellow soldier taught him the game as a way to pass idle time together. His fascination with chess grew, leading him to further study the game by reading books and visiting libraries. After several years of service, Seawood retired and settled in Stockton, working for the United States Postal Service until his retirement.
During the pandemic, Seawood observed that many children were spending their time solely on computers or video games, lacking follow-through on various activities. Recognizing the immense benefits of chess, he saw an opportunity to introduce children to the game and provide them with a productive and intellectually stimulating pastime.
"One of the primary lessons chess teaches is the importance of every decision," Seawood explained. "It encourages players to think before making a move, considering alternative choices and their potential consequences. This mindset is crucial, especially for kids of color, who often rush into decisions without fully understanding the potential outcomes."
The main goal of Every Move Counts is to empower children through chess, but they are also open to teaching adults, welcoming participants of all ages from 5 to 80 years old.
Originally starting as a mobile chess club, Seawood and his team would bring a giant chess set to parks, attracting curious players eager to learn. Their success and growing popularity led to the suggestion of using the New Spirit Missionary Baptist Church on South Airport Way in south Stockton as a home base for their chess activities. Every Friday, the church hosts chess sessions from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on Saturdays, the mobile chess club ventures to various locations at different times.
As the nonprofit gains momentum, Seawood envisions expanding their chess sessions to more days of the week. The objective is not to create professional chess players but to cultivate critical thinking skills among the youth. By encouraging children to contemplate their choices carefully, much like in a game of chess, Every Move Counts aims to equip them with essential decision-making skills that will serve them well in all aspects of life.
"We're striving to instill in them the habit of considering their moves before making them," Seawood emphasized.
With Every Move Counts, Lenard Seawood is making a significant impact on the young minds of Stockton, providing them with a valuable tool for growth and self-improvement.
For more information and participation details, interested individuals can join the chess sessions at New Spirit Missionary Baptist Church every Friday or reach out to Every Move Counts for further updates and locations for the mobile chess club sessions.