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In September 2010, 12 year-old Bronx resident, Justus Williams, became the youngest ever African-American Chess Master, in the history of the United States Chess Federation. The coveted title that is awarded to players, who can beat even most chess experts, was previously held, by 16-year old Kassa Korley.
Now, the young sixth-grader has launched a campaign, dubbed 'Dare to Be Different' to ask kids who have succeeded in off beat activities to speak up, and encourage others to broaden their horizons, beyond the normal afterschool sports activities.
Unlike most prodigies, Justus did not grow up around chess, nor, did he start playing when he was a toddler. It was only at his mum's suggestion that he try something different from the norm, that he reluctantly, took up chess as an afterschool activity, in third grade.
While a little embarrassed because it was not as 'cool' as basketball, which most of his friends embraced, the young boy nevertheless decided to give it a try. The rest as they say, is history. This shy boy, who according to his instructor, showed more focus than any of his peers, was at the top the class and, top the county, by the time, he reached fourth grade.
And, if you are thinking that the game is a little too boring and nerdy think about this - This young prodigy spent the entire summer traveling to exotic places like Brazil and, in October 2010, he even got to miss school and fly to Greece- For some 'boring' chess tournaments of course! Justus is not the only young lad to excel at this unusual sport - In December 2010, 10-year old Northern Californian, Samuel Sevian, became the youngest boy ever, to earn the title of Chess Master.
So the challenge this Justus is posing to all of you is - Can you 'Dare to be Different', by trying something new. While Justus is referring to chess, we believe that it could be applied to anything you do in your day-to-day life - A new friend, food, hairdo . . . . . . . etc.etc. To read more about the sixth grader's crusade and rise to his challenge go to justuswilliams.com.
Resources: United States Chess Foundation,theloop21.com