WILLIAMSBURG — A new location of early childhood program chain Kidville will have an added focus — programming for autistic kids.
Kidville's Williamsburg location, at 184 Kent Ave., will open in mid-August, with husband-and-wife team Lorraine and Galo Erazo helming the franchise.
"Autism is my passion," said Lorraine, whose oldest son Galo is autistic. "I'd love to share my story with women who are just getting their kids' diagnoses."
Galo, now 12, was diagnosed with autism at 18 months, his mother said.
Tons of teachers regularly came into their house, and seeing them interact with Galo in a lively way turned Lorraine on to the importance of early childhood education, she said.
Even non-autistic children can benefit from having a teacher engage with them on the floor, as her middle son Nathaniel did, she added.
"It's not your typical classroom," Lorraine said. "It’s like 'Sesame Street Live.'"
Franchises of the early childhood company, which has locations across the country, can add their own spin and programming. The Erazos plan to eventually host educational seminars and awareness programs for adults about children with autism.
The parent workshops would double as a starting point for developing a community of parents with autistic children in the neighborhood, Lorraine explained.
Aside from the Erazos, other staff members have also been impacted by autism in various ways, she said.
It can be difficult to hear about a child's disability diagnosis, she noted, and the Williamsburg location of Kidville should be a safe space where people can connect.
"I want peope to come into my facility and think 'it’s OK'," she said. "Come on in, relax."
In addition to art, music and enrichment classes, Kidville offers a gym with a zip line, trampoline and trapeze. Classes start at $575 for a 16-week program, with one 45-minute class per week.
The space can also host birthday parties.
Kidville will be offering free classes and events up until the grand opening later this year. Interested parents can stay updated on their website.
► In the same building at 184 Kent Ave., local pet supply chain NYC Pet will be opening a new location, making it the fourth in Williamsburg.
The store has eight locations across Brooklyn. The new spot is still undergoing renovations and has no set open date, according to a representative from the company.
Construction was taking too long on the flagship store's move from Williamsburg to Greenpoint, so the owners decided to open a smaller store as an easier option, owners told Gothamist.