The Nicetown branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, which also serves Hunting Park, has been a place for kids in the surrounding community to come after school and work on their studies. While the library does offer the LEAP Program to help children with their work a new program has started to teach them chess.
The club, the Nicetown Knights, has been teaching kids of all ages how to play for only two weeks. Started by one of the library’s supervisors, Kim Robinson, the program has been seeing a significant amount of popularity within its short period of time.
“Within the past few weeks we’ve seen 15-17 kids,” Robinson said. “It’s been a pretty good start so far for an after-school program.”
While there are a few experienced individuals in the club, most are beginners. Siddiqah Abu-Bakr, a junior in high school, is one of the many still learning the ropes of the complex game.
“I’ve been learning for about two weeks,” Abu-Bakr said.
Most of the teaching is done by Robinson herself, but oftentimes it’s the students who teach each other. Many of the older teens and even the younger more experienced players help one another. Even with the games complexity, Abu-Bakr is still looking to continue playing.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting down the basics,” Abu-Bakr said.
With so many schools in Philadelphia cutting after-school programs due to low budgets, programs like this have been offering a place for kids to become a part of a club or find a new hobby. Robinson even has larger aspirations of having the program become a part of the After School Activities Partnership here in Philadelphia.
Though the program is helping to teach kids to have fun with the game Robinson hopes they take a bigger lesson than just having fun playing.
“It teaches them to pause and think ahead,” Robinson said,.“It allows them to meditate and remove their cares for a while.