National Chess Day Alabama promoting chess while helping veterans and children
By Michael Ciamarra
Visitors and patients walking through the Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC), in downtown Birmingham, were treated to an unusual sight this past Saturday morning, October 12. A number of tables in symmetrical rows were set up displaying chess sets and seated were chess players quietly focusing on their game. These veterans had gathered to celebrate the VAMC First Annual National Chess Day.
The chess players were local veterans who had served in the nation’s armed forces, or who are patients participating in one of the VA health care programs. While they had served in different branches of the armed services – together, they were all united in their desire to play and support chess.
National Chess Day (Oct. 12) is the perfect public relations opportunity for chess organizers and clubs to be highly visible playing chess in public places. Chess players can share with interested and curious spectators information on where to play, online chess sites, the US Chess Federation www.uschess.org, answer questions about the rules, movements of the pieces and so forth.
It was with that objective in mind that the Atrium (also known as the Garden Room) of the Birmingham VAMC was chosen as the site for the veterans National Chess Day event. It is readily accessible to all. Foot traffic is steady throughout the day. Families, visitors, and personnel are coming and going.
Watching their fellow veterans play chess drew lots of attention. Virtually everyone stopped to look at the games in progress or ask questions about chess
Michelle Davis, CTRS Recreation Therapist for the Southeastern Blind Rehab Center of the Birmingham VAMC, worked tirelessly to with other departments within the VA and area veterans support groups. Michelle and her team designed fliers and promoted the event throughout the Alabama VA network. Pre-event local media coverage was excellent.
“Chess brings lots of joy to these veterans. I know many of them who are in our rehab program look forward to their weekly chess playing. Today’s event was an opportunity for everyone just to fellowship, play chess and get to test their skills,” said Michelle Davis. “I am very pleased with the feedback and we will plan another full scale event and tournament next year.”
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