Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Michigan Barber Has Ingenious Idea To Get Kids Reading And Earning A Couple Dollars

They say change comes from within.

That saying can be interpreted in a number of ways. On a personal, individual level, YOU are the only one that can change your life. Looking externally, at a community as an example, the only way that community works is if the people in it are constantly inspiring positive change. In both cases, you can't just throw money or material objects at yourself or your community to give the illusion that everything is okay. Hence why the change must come from within.

It's community that's making changes in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a small town just east of Ann Arbor. Specifically, it's The Fuller Cut barbershop that's inspiring said change.

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Everyone has childhood memories of a barbershop or hair salon.

I used to love getting my hair cut. Something about the smell of ozone-depleting hairspray and the feeling of a razor on my head really gave the place a homey feel. And if you don't have a fond memory of a barbershop, you should probably be watching the movie Barbershop and, for the purposes of this article, that'll do.

Barbershops were always a great place to see friends and community members.

For whatever reason, barbershops have become a place of gathering. We used to go after church on Sunday. We'd always leave right after Communion so we could beat the post-church haircut rush.

I think it has something to do with the fact that barbers are privy to all the community gossip. People — rich and poor, married and divorced — need their hair cut. And when you sit in a chair for 20 or 30 minutes, you are prone to talking about life and just like that, your barber goes from a person who cuts hair to a confidant.

Now there's a barbershop in Michigan that's not just creating community, but is also helping kids learn.

This boy reading about President Obama is in a barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, that has an ingenious way to help kids learn to read while getting a haircut.

These kids are getting $2 off their haircuts if...

...they read to the barber as they get their hair cut.

It gets even better than this.

And the $2 goes straight back into the kids' pockets.

"Parents love it and the kids... well, they like getting the two dollars back," said Ryan Griffin, the barber at The Fuller Cut who brought the discount program to the shop. "We get compliments from teachers all the time, too."

The titles are always rotating and have a specific theme to them.

“All our books have positive images of African-Americans — whether it’s astronauts, athletes or writers,” Griffin said.

Not the first of its kind.

Even though Griffin has been in the spotlight recently, he admits it wasn't his idea. He told the Huffington Post that he heard about other shops in the country initiating a program where kids read aloud to their barbers and wanted to adopt the idea at his business.

Griffin, a father of three, started bringing in old books from home.

"And that’s just how it started. It wasn’t anything grand. I just wanted to be responsible," he said. "I hope people reading this and feel the same way go to their barbershop or beauty salons and tell them about this program as well."

Their fame is spreading in all the right ways.

State of Opportunity, a radio program designed to expose the barriers children of low-income families in Michigan face in achieving success, came knocking and did a fantastic piece on The Fuller Cut Barbershop. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

"It's just being responsible," says Griffin. "We want to be more than just a place where people can come get a haircut." To that end, he takes the reading program very seriously. Kids in his chair can't just read the book and be done with it. Griffin quizzes them at the end to make sure they understood what they just read. It's one thing to be able to read the words on the page, but comprehension, he says, that's "the big thing" he works on with his pint-sized clients."

The smaller kids are encouraged by the bigger kids reading to the barbers.

"When little kids that don’t really know how to read or what’s going on see an older kid in the chair with a book and then grab a book too, that’s what’s important," said Griffin. "Because when a kid thinks it’s cool to read, that’s a gift."

The childrens' progress is recorded and if a child doesn't finish a book, they finish it the next time they come in.

This program also encourages children to become more confident. Obviously, not every child is comfortable with reading aloud. But creating a space where they feel comfortable, The Fuller Cut hopes it'll encourage kids to read aloud.

Looking forward to the future.

“If we can get kids to come back to the Fuller Cut as adults in college and they tell us, ‘Because you guys had us read here, it made me want to be a writer or journalist,’ that’s really the end goal.”

Well done, to the folks at The Fuller Cut. You're doing great things in your community.


Author: verified_user