Annapolis barbershop changes the lives of disadvantaged youth

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Haircuts Help Disadvantaged Youth in Annapolis

By ALEXIS BENVENISTE

One man in Annapolis, Maryland is changing the way the community looks at barbershops. At the Phoenix Academy, an alternative school for students with learning barriers, 30 percent of the students lack access to regular hygienic and grooming care. In an effort to make a change in the students' lives, Rob Cradle decided to convert one of the school's supply closets into a barbershop that provides free haircuts for the students.

Rob's Barbershop Community foundation officially opened the barbershop in April. Although it is closed for the summer, Rob plans to return and reopen for students this upcoming fall. Cradle said:


"Really, access is the problem, so bringing the services to the population kind of eliminates that barrier."


Students love going to the barbershop for many reasons. They say it gives them a chance to chat with Cradle, and some of them even attribute their improved grades to their experiences in the barbershop.

One student said, "My grades have gotten way better than I thought. The barbershop has helped me save money. It helps me want to grow more because what we do here is grow."

Phoenix Academy principal John Thompson has a good feeling about the success of the barbershop. "We really do think ultimately this will pay dividends in the classroom because kids that feel good about themselves will try harder, try longer and have higher self-efficacy and feel good about themselves," he said.

The school plans on comparing the students' grades in previous years to their grades now, but just from the smiles on the students' faces, the faculty can already tell that the barbershop is making a difference.

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