Gallery 22, a learning and enrichment center in Bayville, is committed to working with the neurodiverse community — those with autism spectrum disorder or other neurological or developmental conditions — as well as the general public. The facility, on Bayville Avenue, hosted an open house of sorts on Sept. 17, offering visitors more than just a tour. Classes were also available, including yoga, cooking and crafts.
When visitors first walked in, they found two plush chairs decorated with Beanie Babies, and a spacious creative art space filled with brightly colored artwork, decorations and paper crafts. The art was created by students who take classes at Gallery 22, with the help of its founder, Elizabeth Jordan, who once worked with fashion designer Donna Karen.
“I like to say we’re the SoHo House of the neurodiverse community,” Jordan joked.
She and Julie Corzo opened Gallery 22 in May. They met 10 years ago, when Jordan, who has been an artist for many years, was working on a master’s degree in behavior analysis. Corzo and her then 16-year-old daughter, Eva, who is developmentally delayed, were guest speakers in an ethics class that Jordan was taking.
Soon Eva began taking art classes from Jordan, and they bonded. A mother of five children herself, one of whom is developmentally delayed, Jordan empathized with Corzo and the struggles she experienced with her daughter.
“I realized how unprepared the world was to deal with people of different abilities,” Jordan said.
Jordan and Corzo decided to build a space in which people could connect and enrich themselves through art, music, yoga, dance and technology, and founded Gallery 22.
All of the classes the facility offers are modified to help the neurodiverse, although people of all abilities are encouraged to join. The gallery is divided into four separate spaces, each offering unique learning experiences.
Shop 22 is a vintage thrift boutique, where students are taught life skills such as sorting clothes by size and color, researching prices on eBay, greeting customers, managing a point-of-sale system and other aspects of retail.
Live 22 offers classes such as sewing, game strategy, computer and graphic design, and movie appreciation.
Art 22 is a multimedia art studio with classes in painting, drawing, sculpting and beading.
Fit 22 offers yoga, dance, karaoke and cooking.
Since the gallery’s opening, Joey Ceriello, 18, of Glen Cove, has looked forward to a Saturday class in which he cooks his favorite meals, like pasta with meatballs and nachos. His dream, he said, is to be on a cooking segment on “Today With Hoda & Jenna.”
Ceriello was diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects childhood development, learning and social skills. Outside the gallery, he said, he is self-conscious around other people his age because, as he put it, he thinks differently than they do. But inside Gallery 22, he can be as loud and carefree as he wants.
Suzanne Ceriello, Joey’s mother, heard about the facility from a friend. Saturdays can’t come fast enough for her son, she said, and she is grateful that Joey found a place to socialize and be himself, because he normally doesn’t have those opportunities. And he takes what he learns home, whether it’s art or cooking.
“I think the experiences and things they offer these kids are amazing,” Suzanne said. “I definitely feel like this program is a blessing for him because he’s so happy.”
Although the gallery typically charges $50 an hour for classes, many students make use of government funding. And for those who pay out-of-pocket, there are other sources of funds available through the gallery itself, including grants and scholarships.