A new kind of learning center is opening soon in Wilmington near Wrightsville Beach.
Code Ninjas, an international franchise, teaches children computer coding to allow students to build their own video games.
Wilmington’s Code Ninjas location opens Monday, Aug. 23, at 1982 Eastwood Road in Lumina Commons.
Local franchisee Zoë Mathews, who previously worked for 20 years in customer service operations and marketing, said she learned about Code Ninjas from a Raleigh franchisee.
"When she was telling me about the franchise, I got very excited because we have a 13-year-old and a 12-year-old who were extremely interested in video games, as most children are these days,” Mathews said. “And so we looked into it and we found that there wasn't anything comparable in Wilmington or anywhere close really.”
How it works: Parents pay $225 a month for the Create program, which is for children ages 7 to 14, and the monthly fee gives them the ability to spend two hours a week at Code Ninjas earning “belts,” similar to the martial arts belt system, as they learn.
The Junior program for younger children, ages 5 to 7, doesn’t offer belts but does give students the stepping stones they need if they want to advance.
Students help each other and also receive guidance and support from "Code Senseis," in this case college students who are majoring in computer science.
While the Wilmington Code Ninjas opens Monday, back-to-school grand opening activities for the local franchise will be held the weekend of Sept. 17-18.
On Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to noon, Code Ninjas will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the business community and local officials. An open house is set to take place the following day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"Learning to code is becoming increasingly important," Mathews said, "and in addition to its necessity for the younger generation, it helps kids strengthen their logic, math, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.