GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — At Rankin Elementary School in Greensboro, there’s a buzz of activity in one room.
That’s where some local barbers have their clippers and styling tools in action, changing up the students’ hair — and their lives.
It’s a partnership with Communities in Schools and Prestige Barber School, and the barbers are volunteering their time to give students at Rankin Elementary School free haircuts.
“I got a low fade and top the top and I like it,” Bassi Adam, a 5th grader, explains.
It’s reactions like that, that make barber Gene Blackmon’s day.
“We know that when kids look good, they feel good,” says Blackmon. “When they feel good, they act good. When they act good, they tend to have a good life.”
There’s more to this program than meets the eye. While the barbers have the students in their chairs, they also have their undivided attention. According to Youth Development Coordinator Crystal Black, that can make a huge difference in these students’ lives.
“A lot of our boys lean on these barbers to talk about how they want their hair, to talk about what’s going on at home, to talk about what’s going on in their classroom. But also being able to think about a barber as a person that you could use as a mentor,” Black said. “As someone to talk to and confide in. I think many adult men do that and I think that if we start to foster our boys to think about barbers in that way, then we create an upcoming positive relationship that they can look forward to having.”
Blackmon agrees with her.
“It’s an awesome feeling to, number one, connect with them and then start to build trust and then they believe in some of the things that you share with them. So it’s an awesome connection and an awesome feeling. And it also charges us to be accountable and to do right. Because we know that these kids are watching us. It’s a great feeling, man. We benefit from it as well.”
It’s an event that the students who are part of RISE, or “Rams Inspiring Success Everyday,” have done after school before. Because of how it made them feel, they wanted more students to be able to take part. So they asked their RISE sponsor William Thomas to make it happen.
And he did! He says it has helped him in the process too.
“It lets me know that I’m doing the right thing and I’m instilling the right thing into the boys,” Thomas said. “But it also lets me know that they’re responsible enough to retain the knowledge, but also give it back out to the school community.”
Everyone who is involved comes away with a new cut and style and a full heart.
Gene Blackmon says that is especially true for his barbers.
“We always look to what we do as really inspiring. We always look to inspire these young men to become entrepreneurs or professionals and I think that we do that through this program.”
They also make for some grateful young men.