Code Ninjas coming to Gig Harbor
By Jillian Chandler
Like many parents during the pandemic, Karl Henderson found himself spending more time with his own children, who were 7 and 5 years old at the time. “The teachers at Gig Harbor Academy were awesome in setting up remote learning, but I still found myself taking a lot of time during the workday trying to help my kids navigate their devices, join video calls and submit their assignments,” he recalls. “I realized that even as a parent working in the tech industry, juggling work and life in the pandemic, I still felt a little clueless on how to keep my kids not only engaged and learning how to use their devices, but also how to stay engaged in healthy ways and not just watch videos all day.”
While his wife continued her work as a doctor in the Emergency Department at Good Samaritan Hospital, Karl knew his family was blessed to be able to have one parent at home with the kids—though the couple knew not everyone was as fortunate. “Other families didn’t have someone to troubleshoot a Zoom or Teams call for their kids, and many kids were being left for hours to their own devices, which many times resulted in them just consuming social media instead of doing their schoolwork,” notes Karl.
After discussing this with other friends and coworkers in the tech space, as well as family members in the education field, Karl saw an opportunity to tackle these different issues. “We thought, ‘How can we introduce kids to coding at an earlier age to help them become more capable with the technology we use today?’ ‘How can we teach them to become producers of tech and online content rather than only consumers of social media?’” he reflects.
From initial conversations, franchise discovery, back and forth with corporate lawyers, and a prolonged permitting process with the City of Gig Harbor, Karl and his team are nearly two years into the process of bringing Code Ninjas—which is quickly becoming synonymous with kids’ after-school science and technology programs—to the local community. “Many of the families we've spoken with know the brand and are excited to have us open this exciting space in the community,” Karl adds.
Providing an ever-evolving program that aligns with school standards, computer science topics will be covered in an extremely fun and engaging way to keep kids coming back. “Our goal is for each kid who comes to our dojo to walk out being able to create something unique rather than just consuming content on the internet. We want kids to have fun every time they come to our dojo, make friends, let their creativity run wild, and look forward to their next session with us,” Karl says.
With over 20 different programs, they aim to help every kid who walks through the doors the opportunity to open themselves up, learn how to think outside the box, and find ways to excel in the expression of their creativity. And with a community of more than 400 locations in three countries, ninjas will also get to interact with kids from all over to challenge their skills.
Their “senseis” are young and engaged, with backgrounds in sports and education, and are ready to work one on one. Offering more than programming, kids will be introduced to game making, robotics, 3D printing, drones and more exciting things while learning at their own pace.
“Our director, Curt Carroll, is a dear friend and neighbor, and he has a long history here in the Harbor coaching soccer and basketball on the club and school level, and he has great relationships with many of the teachers, coaches, older kids and young adults who are joining us as senseis to help teach the younger kids. Our assistant director, Laura Stockton, has a wonderful relationship with my own kids and has years of experience working with kids who just gravitate toward her.”
In addition, they have approximately 28 different camps—with different levels from introductory to more advanced challenges—that will be offered throughout the year, especially during winter and summer breaks. Some of these camps include LEGO robotics, web development, composing music with code, animation, and becoming a Youtuber.
“Today’s tech space is for everyone, regardless of where you come from, or what you look like, and our team is excited at the opportunity to hopefully help open some doors for the next generation” Karl smiles.
Keep an eye out for Code Ninjas, a “World Where Kids Write the Code,” opening soon right here in Gig Harbor.
4819 Point Fosdick Drive, D200
Gig Harbor, Washington