Oliver Mastey, a computer engineering student at MIT, took DOROT Westchester’s intergenerational chess program online earlier this year. A passion for chess and recognition of the importance of social connection for seniors during the pandemic propelled him into action. Olivier’s ingenuity was rewarded with a prestigious OMEGA scholarship from MIT’s AgeLab. Checkmate.
The eighteen year old from New Rochelle, became involved with DOROT, a NYC-based nonprofit that works to end social isolation and create connections across the generations, when he was a high school student looking to sharpen his chess game.
“I initially became involved with DOROT intergenerational chess because I already liked chess a lot. My dad taught me how to play when I was young and I thought it would be a cool after school community service opportunity to get involved in,” said Olivier.
Thanks to Olivier’s care and dedication to the game and to DOROT, this beloved program was able to transition online during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Youth in grades six through twelve can play chess safely with one of the most isolated and vulnerable groups, adults age 65 and older.
“I think it is especially important during this time to have these virtual intergenerational activities to help out seniors who may feel very isolated during the quarantine,” added Olivier. “It turned out to be a great experience and I am so happy with the turnout we got!”
The program has reached two dozen weekly players online and these games have even gone international with seniors joining from Israel!
For more than forty years, DOROT has been addressing the challenges of an aging population by providing older adults with a diverse range of programs and services focusing on intergenerational connections.
DOROT’s model for older adult engagement in good times and in trying times has become a national model for alleviating social isolation and loneliness, a public health crisis that became even more critical with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Intergenerational Chess at DOROT is sponsored by the Targoff family and friends.