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'So Much Opportunity': Business Code Ninjas Hopes To Attract More Colorado Girls

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – The growing need for more people in computer science jobs has launched several franchises of Code Ninjas, a business targeting children and young teens to learn about coding and introduce them to a possible career path.

"I want to be a fashion designer when I grow up," said Layla Ann Shelley, 11, a student at the Code Ninjas in Highlands Ranch. "Most people don't realize that fashion is a lot about robotics, fashion is a lot about math."

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(credit: CBS)

Computer programming can be easier to develop an interest for at a younger age, so the company uses games to help students learn the concepts behind the science. The Code Ninjas at 2229 W. Wildcat Reserve Parkway targets students from 7 to 14.

"I think kids at a young age are not as afraid to make mistakes," said one of the instructors or Senseis. "A lot of coding is you make mistakes a lot and overcoming the problems that you're trying to solve."

Not only do they have a Sensei, like in martial arts, but they work their way up a belt system starting with white all the way up to black.

"I feel they have a sense of worth, they can utilize this so that they are able to kind of feel like they're actually achieving something," said Kathleen Manzanares, co-owner of the franchise.

Manzanares and Diedra Garcia own the location together. They are focused on getting as many students interested in coding as they can, but as women they encourage families to send their girls as well.

"It's important to us to introduce more girls into this field because we feel there's so much opportunity for them," Garcia said.

Parents are told that they are likely watching their children play video games all the time at home so they should consider a way to keep them playing games but also learn at the same time.

"Are you going to have your kids use their time playing... or are they going to use their time creating?" said Leo Dulay, the center director for this location.

The Highlands Ranch Code Ninjas was the first in Colorado but now there are several across the state since it opened less than a year ago. Across North America, there are already 300 different locations.

"It's fun, you can learn what you want to learn," said Shelley.


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