Ear Hustle

Helping The Youth: Iowa Barber Gives Free Haircuts To Kids Who Read Stories To Him


A lot of stories are told in the barbershop. Some true and some just unbelievably false. Imagine being able to pay for your haircut or hairdo by just reading a good story to the barber/stylist. Sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s true. Boys and girls who are going back to school are able to get a haircut and just pay for it by reading a book while getting a cut.

Barber Courtney Holmes listened over the buzz of a clipper to children reading books Saturday afternoon. The local barber traded haircuts for stories during the second annual Back to School Bash in Comiskey Park.

“I just want to support kids reading,” Holmes said.

But this initiative is not only giving young men an opportunity for a free haircut, it’s also positively affecting their health. In a 2009 study, it was proved that reading for only six minutes can reduce stress by 68 percent, as well as slow your heart rate and minimize muscle tension. After a stressful day at work or school, instead of turning on the television, crack open a great book or fire up the Kindle in order to relax and stay healthy. Research also shows that setting aside time to read on a regular basis can have a significant impact on reducing dementia as we age.

Anderson Sainci coordinated the Back to School Bash. The event was the result of collaboration between multiple community partners and nonprofit organizations.

“The idea is to connect people to people and people to resources,” Sainci said, adding, “It helps all of us to reach our full potential.”

More than 100 people learned about free resources and before- and after-school opportunities that help families prepare for the upcoming school year.

St. Mark Youth Enrichment gave away books during the event. Some of those books were read to Holmes, a barber at Spark Family Hair Salon.

“This is amazing. It’s fabulous,” said Beth McGorry, outreach coordinator with St. Mark. She said it was neat to watch Holmes help young children sound out words they didn’t quite know yet.

Caitlin Daniels, grade-level reading coordinator with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, also helped struggling readers in the barber chair.

“It’s great. All the kids, they want to have a good haircut to go back to school,” she said. “They’re paying through reading.”

In addition to giving out books, St. Mark also registered people for the Apples for Students program. At least 1,300 children in Dubuque, western Dubuque County and East Dubuque, Ill., will receive backpacks full of school supplies.

In Dubuque, the first full day of classes is Sept. 1.

Source: Ricky Smiley Morning Show

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