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Chess Kenya Incorporates Chess at Correctional Facility in Kisii 

The Chess Kenya Federation has introduced chess at the Kisii Main GK Prison to improve the inmates’ quality of life.

Under the programme dubbed ‘Chess for Freedom’ recognised by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the organisation has partnered with the Kisii Men and Women’s Prisons to train and organise tournaments for prisoners in correctional facilities.

Speaking during the International Women’s Day celebrations at the Kisii Women’s Prison, Chess Kenya Gender and Special Needs Secretary Rhoda Olisa said they will incorporate the Training of Trainers so that the inmates can train others once they are released.

“Many schools are coming up and if we train our women in here, they will leave this place as reformed and better woman and get to train students on chess in schools so that they can earn income to better themselves,” said Olisa.

The Secretary noted several individuals earn a living through teaching chess in schools and encouraged the inmates to take advantage of the opportunities in the game.

Chess for Schools Committee Chairperson, Saphinah Kenyando said they had chosen to introduce chess to the correctional facility as a tool for instilling discipline among the inmates.

“Chess enables you to exercise patience and think critically to make correct decisions, especially when you are facing a challenge. You may find an array of options and you must choose the correct ones,” Ms Kenyando noted.

She pointed out that inmates who had played the game were able to realise that, had they made the right decision, they would not be locked up in prison.

In addition, the Chairperson noted that chess promotes education, improves the mental well-being of prisoners, and enhances strategic thinking because one must think about oneself and the opponent while playing the game.

Kenyando said they have been training the inmates for some time and will be enrolling them for the 4th Championship of World Chess in Prison tournament next year.

Notably, Kisii GK Prison is the first to launch the Chess for Freedom Programme in Kenya and the third in the African region.

The Chess Kenya Federation organised a chess tournament at the Women’s Prison in partnership with the Office of Kisii Woman Representative, Dorice Aburi to celebrate International Women’s Day.

While awarding the winners and participants of the tournament, Kenyando pointed out the role that the awards will play in building the inmates’ self-esteem, promoting recognition, and providing a smooth reintegration into society.

The facility also received a donation of 15 chess boards from the Federation and partners at the event including Cooperative Bank, Equity Bank, Scholar Media Africa, Gusii Mental Health Awareness, Rotary Club of Kisii, Hema Hospital, and A Million Hugs among others.

By Mercy Osongo

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