STOCKTON — Playing with Legos at Bricks 4 Kidz in Stockton isn’t just fun for youngsters, it’s a lesson.
“He definitely gets into the science, technology, engineering, art and math all in one lesson and the kids don’t realize how much they’re learning because they’re having so much fun,” parent Jeniffer Milton said.
Owner Brent Fujii has taught Lego lessons for the last five years.
“My goal when I come to work every day is to help the kids learn and to educate them and give them an experience that they can’t get in the traditional classroom anymore,” he said.
But Fujii’s goal is in jeopardy after thieves broke in and stole $15,000 worth of equipment from the Bricks 4 Kidz on March Lane over the weekend.
“They took my TV that was on the wall that I use to run my PowerPoint presentations and my lessons with the kids, and then they took my 10 laptops that I use for my coding and robotics classes and then my movie making and comic creation camps,” Fujii said.
Twenty-one Kindle Fire tablets, cameras, a screen projector and many of the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego kits.
“Each one of those kits are $450 to replace,” Fujii said.
The surveillance camera right outside the door wasn’t working at the time.
Kids were back in the Lego learning center on Thursday but the future of Fujii’s robotics camp, set to start next week, is up in the air.
“I was devastated, my son was devastated because there’s not very many programs like this,” Milton said.
Now parents and the community are rallying around the businesses, raising money to replace what was stolen and keep up and running.
So far, more than $3,000 have been raised.
“I never really thought about the impact, the lasting impact that I’d be making on these kids and the relationship sense so to have them reach out and to have the parents reach out it really kind of helps restore my faith in humanity especially after something bad like this happens,” Fujii said.
Fujii says while he’s heartbroken about the thefts, this won’t stop him from teaching kids that they’re never too old to play with Legos.
“You’ve hurt us and you’ve hurt the kids but we’re not done. We’ll rise up and we’re above and beyond you and we’ll continue to go and continue to grow,” he said. “Even though this is a setback, we’ve realized this isn’t the end.”