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How do barbershops help with parenting in Toronto? AboutKidsHealth reports

A grassroots program run in barbershops in Toronto’s west end is helping black fathers get involved in the lives of their children, according to AboutKidsHealth, leading online source of children’s health information.

Anthony Davis, better known as Peculiar-I, is a “regular” at Toronto’s J.C. Hair Salon & Barbers. “It’s good to be back,” he says, during his most recent visit. “It feels like it’s been too long.” But unlike most, if not all, of the shop’s regular clientele, Peculiar-I never sits down for a trim or a hot shave when he’s back. Instead, he’d rather talk to both patrons and barbers about a subject close to his heart: fatherhood.

“We’ve got a large group here so let’s get started,” he says, raising his voice only to drown out the sounds of buzzing shears and blowing hair dryers. “Whatever we discuss here today, the bottom line is to strengthen the relationship between you and your children.”

As a member of a growing team of facilitators, Peculiar-I volunteers his time to The Barbershop Project: More than a Haircut. It’s a grassroots program with a simple mission: encourage black fathers to get involved in the lives of their children. Organized by Toronto’s Macaulay Child Development Centre, More Than a Haircut began as a one-day pilot project in February 2006 to address the growing concern regarding absentee fathers, particularly in Toronto’s Caribbean community. According to Statistics Canada, two out of three children raised in Canadian-Caribbean homes grow up without a father. Now in its fifth year, the program offers monthly sessions at four different barbershops in the Eglinton-Oakwood neighbourhood.

“All of this gives me a sense of purpose and it definitely gives me a platform,” says Peculiar-I. “It allows me to get more involved in the community, and it gives me something to look forward to every month.”

Sixty-year-old Spider has attended More than a Haircut sessions at J.C. Hair Salon & Barbers since the very beginning, and after only a few sessions, he says, his philosophy on parenting changed drastically.

“We often underestimate how smart our children really are, and as parents this is an obstacle we need to overcome,” he says. “Just because we were parented one way doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the right way.”

He also credits the sessions for making him, “a good father and an even better grandfather.”

On a personal level, the benefits of showing up and participating at a session are endless, according to Peculiar-I. But, more importantly, the neighbourhood stands to benefit too.

I can actually say there is a ‘community’ at Eglinton and Oakwood, and before I was a part of The Barbershop Project I really couldn’t say that with any conviction,” he says.

At the end of the day, it’s all about sharing knowledge and providing peace of mind, says Peculiar-I. And as long as he is able to do so, he will continue to return to J.C. Hair Salon & Barbers on the first Saturday of every month.

“As a facilitator, I’m able to reach to the heart of my community and the hearts of my community reach to me,” he says. “The same thing they are giving me is the same thing I’m giving them: the pureness of my heart.”

Joel Tiller
Writer/Editor
AboutKidsHealth

For more information, please visit AboutKidsHealth, or read the original article by visiting:
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/News/NewsAndFeatures/Pages/More-than-a-Haircut-A-cut-above-the-rest.aspx

AboutKidsHealth
AboutKidsHealth is the leading Canadian online source for trusted child health information, and has a scope and scale that is unique in the world. Developed by SickKids Learning Institute in collaboration with over 300 paediatric health specialists, the site provides parents, children, and community health care providers with evidence-based information about everyday parenting information, health and complex medical conditions, from life in the NICU, to what we can learn about resilience to childhood adversity from Oprah Winfrey, to encouraging positive fatherhood via a barbershop project. AboutKidsHealth adheres to rigorous quality standards for the creation and review of health information.

Visit www.aboutkidshealth.ca to find out more.

For more information, please contact:
Sue Mackay, Communications
Email: susan.mackay@sickkids.ca
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1X8
Canada
Tel: 416-813-5165



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