Bellcate School has offered haircuts in a variety of ways over many years. The ritual of free haircuts at Bellcate first started as a response to many of our students having high anxiety and/or sensory issues related to going to a barber. This would often lead to our students not having regular haircuts. Parents would put off going to the barber and students would dread it. We discovered that having known and trusted staff cut hair in a safe and secure environment assisted our students with developing tolerance and skills to manage the barbershop experience. We’ve had student classes, unscheduled ‘can you cut my hair’ appointments, scheduled appointments that students sign up for in advance, and most recently we have scheduled Barbershop Days that are a planned part of our community calendar. Students have developed comfort and confidence and thoroughly look forward to being able to get ‘freshened up’ a time or two each month, trying a ‘new-do’, or doing a major makeover! Recently, while having his haircut, Marcus said, ‘so you all are the ‘Bellcate Barbers!’ — the name fits!
In our exciting expansion into an additional space next year, there will be a dedicated space to incorporate a full barbershop. We are looking into working with a full-time barber and having our staff do apprenticeships to earn their barber certificate. We will then have the ability to work with Bellcate students who are interested in pursuing job opportunities in the barber field.
“Getting a haircut can be an important therapeutic experience for our students,” explains Jesse Bell, Bellcate School Director “When a student is truly sitting still it is a sometimes rare contemplative moment. Things come up and healing begins with being heard and witnessed. Add to that a moment of attending to basic self care needs and end with a fresh look facilitated by a skilled sounding board? It doesn’t get much better than that!”
Expansion, growth and healing haircuts are exciting — it’s not just hair that is growing around here!