Like many parents of kids with special needs, Julie Eubanks dreaded taking her little boy to get a haircut.
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Not all kids mind a trip to the barber, but for her 7-year-old son Ellison, the experience was flat-out traumatic for all involved. The child, who has Down syndrome, would bat the scissors from the stylist’s hand and sob, and he needed to be held in a “bear hug” just to get through it.
“He’s always struggled with some sensory overload, as kids like him typically do,” Julie explained. “Haircuts were one of those things that, honestly, my husband and I dreaded.”
Julie heard about a barber in Cincinnati, Ohio who sets aside time each month to give free haircuts to kids who need special accommodations, so she eagerly booked an appointment. When she walked into Noble Barber and Beauty, she was greeted by the man himself, owner Vernon Jackson. She and Ellison instantly felt at ease with him, and Vernon was laser-focused on his newest little client.
“I think that Vernon has a cool energy about him, he was just welcoming to him and treated him like a human being, like any other client, and worked with him and followed his lead, and I think that means a lot to any person,” said Julie.
Vernon took time to get to know Ellison before he even sat in the chair. Then, he got the boy laughing by playing “stop and go” with the clippers, something Julie never would have dreamed possible. Ellison fed off of Vernon’s infectious joy, and soon the boy was giggling uncontrollably! The sound was music to Julie’s ears.
“Ellison is, his personality is class clown,” mom Julie said with a laugh. “So if he knows what he is doing is making you laugh, he’s going to continue doing it, and it just becomes the fun thing that he does. So, once he saw the reaction from Vernon, I’m not surprised that he just continued it.”
All of this laughter is par for the course in Vernon’s shop. Using community donations, he holds a monthly “Gifted Event” to focus his time and skills soley on children who need a little extra time, patience, or other accommodations. He started the event because he feels a connection to kids with special needs, and he feels “designed to give and receive love.”
“When I meet a child, I’m really meeting them where they are, and not where I want them to be,” Vernon explained.
Ellison left the barbershop smiling, and getting a haircut is now something to look forward to, not dread. This is “one less thing to worry about,” according to Ellison’s very grateful mom. In fact, it’s downright “life-changing.”
So far, Vernon has done more than 300 free cuts! He says the experience always leaves him “in awe,” and it seems the feeling is very mutual. Our hats are off to this very caring and empathetic barber!
Share this story to thank Vernon for helping these kids enjoy getting a fresh cut.
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