By Bernadette Graham
The Truth Contributor
Things don’t quite go the way we planned and eventually it can very well turn into a blessing in disguise and take one on a journey on which he never thought he would be. One such story is that of Keith Carswell.
As a young man he made some mistakes and found himself in the legal system for some time behind bars in 1989. While he was incarcerated Keith learned how to play chess and learned sign language. “They were both things that intrigued me, I really enjoyed the strategy of thinking three steps ahead of an opponent and the signing felt good like learning another language.”
Today he is utilizing what he learned while he was incarcerated to help children learn how to play chess and sign language. “If you had asked me years ago if I would have a 501c3 and the opportunity to work with kids helping them surpass their potential I would have laughed. My life started out full of mistakes and I knew it was not the life I wanted to live.”
Chess and sign language are very under-utilized but both have the capacity to take a youngster very far and at the very least reduce the potential for being in bad situations making bad decisions and having no role models.
Chess is no easy game as it teaches strategy, thinking ahead, staying composed against a component and many find it just as competitive as basketball or football. Not every child is athletic, or musically inclined, and these are both subjects that provide other avenues of opportunity.
Sign language is sparingly used and only if necessary and the use of it promotes the idea that one has a disability. Again, sign language takes necessary intelligence to communicate with one’s hands as opposed to speaking out loud. Sign language is not a game and it does take time and commitment to learn just as a foreign language and honestly most who learn sign language do so out of necessity.
One reason for learning sign language is that an individual has the knowledge to communicate with others in situations of places of employment, travel, and media (turn on any channel with our President speaking and there will be an individual signing.)
Secondly, like chess, it gives children an opportunity to be in a safe environment learning something that may promote their success in the future and one day it may be the highlight on their resume that sets them out from their competitors. Lastly, it keeps kids off gaming consoles, away from social media, out in the community and in social situations.
If you would like more information on how to get your child involved in sign language and or chess, please contact Keith Carswell at 419-609-6940. Classes take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5-7pm at 1119 Bancroft and are free, no costs are involved. Also, if you would like to donate your time or dollars to help this business grow, they would be more than happy to accept your gifts. “We are always in need of more chess boards and chairs and eventually we hope to obtain a van to be able to provide transportation for kids.”
“I don’t want to see any child experience what I went through as a youth and I’m so grateful that I was able to turn around my life and utilize my God given gifts to help children learn skills and grow into successful men and women. Sometimes finding your purpose comes at a sacrifice but makes life worth living.”