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Neighbourhood associations offering local kids free cuts through local salon

'It's amazing what a haircut can do for confidence and pride,' says neighbourhood association director

Some Cambridge neighbourhood associations are playing fairy godmother to kids in their area. 

Preston Heights Community Group and Hespeler's Greenway-Chaplin Community Centre and Silverheights Neighbourhood Association are offering free haircuts for kids getting back to school in a month or so.

Families that access services by these community groups can now sign up to get their kids a free haircut through the Community Cuts Program, said Justin West, executive director of Preston Heights Community Group.

For Preston Heights members, he said, the Cinderella Beauty Salon is where families will be directed for their cuts. Hespeler salon locations are yet to be determined, said West.

The uptake has been great, he said, noting that 30 families have signed on in the two days since the announcement was made on Facebook.  

Mary Khan, who lives in the Preston area of Cambridge, said she had already used the program to book an appointment for her two kids, Gabriella, 7, and Gideon, 13, for later in August.    

"I think it's important because everybody likes to feel good the first day of school," she said. "They're important for the kids' self-esteem."

Khan added that the program helps for families that might be struggling economically because of the pandemic.

"Right now, both my husband and I are out of work so it's a big help for having two kids go back to school in September," she said, adding, "Hopefully, at one point we could be in a position where we could help give back to another family that's struggling."

The idea for the program, West said, came to him back in March, when he was getting a haircut before the lockdown.  

"I thought, 'Wow, this would be great to connect our local business with our community,'" he said.

West said haircuts will instill "community pride and community spirit as we come out of the pandemic. It's amazing what a haircut can do for confidence and pride."

He said he worked closely with his colleagues, Emily Jaarsma, executive director, Greenway-Chaplin Community Centre, and Lori Da Cunha, executive director, Silverheights Neighbourhood Association, who tied up the idea with the back-to-school theme. 

There is enough funding from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, West said, for the three neighbourhoods to sign up close to 200 cuts altogether. 

"If it doesn't happen through the school year, we would love to extend it out to adults," he said, adding, there might be people that need to get a cut when going for a job interview.

The goal also is that community groups and partners introduce their members to local businesses encouraging a long-term relationship between the two, West said.

"We believe in community development and seeing things come back in our community," he said. "Any services we can do to support that is really important."

More information is available via the Facebook pages for Preston Heights, Greenway-Chaplin, and Silverheights