Barbers give local elementary students free haircuts to boost confidence

Updated: Dec. 4, 2019 at 12:23 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Studies show the way you feel on the inside can be impacted by how you look on the outside.

Which is why one Charlotte barber is giving free haircuts to students at an elementary school. This isn’t about vanity, but about lifting kids up.

Tuesday morning at Reedy Creek Elementary, barbers from The Grooming Lounge will pull out their razors and get students who sometimes struggle in school to climb into the styling chair. It’s a moment that can be seen as small, but is actually large and life-changing.

A good haircut can give you confidence.

I’m an old sports fan so it goes back to the adage of whenever you look good, you play good. What I’ve seen is it translates with kids and with schoolwork too,” said Elliot Riley.

That’s all the proof Riley says he needs to believe that confidence can push students in a better direction.

“They get a haircut and at least while they have that haircut, their behavior changes. Their attitude change, their work ethic changes,” Riley continued.

Some of the students at Reedy Creek are known to get in trouble, have low self-esteem, be bullied or their families just can’t afford to get them regular haircuts.

“Everybody needs to be clean. It’s just something about when you get out that chair, you see the mirror and you get out that chair, you know you’re about to kill ‘em,” Riley said.

This free service is something Riley does in his spare time. He has been doing this quietly since 2013. He says the kids sent to him usually don’t have the best relationship with teachers, but he can make a connection. He jokingly calls himself the kid whisperer.

“Once I make the connection, [I say] tell me what’s your favorite subject. [Some say] ‘Well I don’t have one,'" Riley said. "Hold on, time out, you’re at school all day long and there’s not one thing you enjoy?' 'Uh, Math,” [Then I ask,] ‘Well what do you like about Math?’ Then the next thing you know I’m having a conversation with a kid who these people see every day and can’t get ‘em to come out,” he said.

Conversations shared between the students and barbers are something special. Cache Gray-Weeks is part of Elliot’s team and loves the magic her razor brings.

“It’s a great feeling, just to see how kids light up at the end of it. It’s exciting,” said Gray-Weeks.

It’s the feeling. Not the look. The feeling that gets these kids motivated to make better decisions.

“That’s the future,” she continued.

“It’s the smile. They light up like a Christmas tree and I think that’s the most rewarding part for me,” Riley said.

Riley says he is challenging other barbers in the area to do the same. He knows there are other students out there in our area that could benefit. He’ll be at Reedy Creek on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

His dream is to spread this out to other schools in the future.

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