Going the right way

Toledo man combats violence by starting program to teach sign language and chess
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Week after week, Keith Carswell saw reports about Toledo teenagers being killed by gun violence. He knew he can’t stop these murders by himself, but he decided he’d at least try to do his part. He began a program at Jermain Park in August that teaches children sign language and chess.

“The first week I had maybe six kids. Last Monday I had 15 kids and nine adults,” Carswell said.

Each Monday and Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Carswell and other volunteers teach whoever shows up.

"People came together to get our kids all together to give them something to do because a lot of kids have been killed out in the streets, so I’m really trying to help our kids to grow and do something better,” Carswell explained.

Carswell’s passion is helping kids. He learned to sign when he was a kid and he learned to play chess 22 years ago.

“I take chess real seriously. It’s a peaceful and quiet game, but it’s also a mind game so once you learn the basic moves and then you learn your strategies," he said.

Carswell makes sure to make this point with the children, saying chess is like the game of life.

“You can choose to go the wrong way or the right way. The right way will always help us to win. My thing is to keep them focused on choosing the right way to go, making the best move,” he said.

Keith takes sign language seriously, too. He plans to teach three courses. The first one is eight levels.

He has a plan to take this program indoors once it turns colder, and he’s always looking for more chessboards and volunteers to help teach the kids. If you’re interested or would like to donate, you can contact Keith at 419-606-6940.

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