The Great Hair Day Escape at the Boggs School
By Yvette Thompson
Special to the Michigan Citizen
The Great Hair Day Escape was a community event that took place March 22 at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School on Detroit’s east side. The event was organized by the Boggs School Exploratory Community Outreach (ECO) group, a community organizing group that facilitates neighborhood conversations in order to build community and connect resources in the neighborhood and the school.
This event connected neighborhood barbers and hair stylists with neighborhood and Boggs School youth to provide free haircuts and hair styling to children under 18.
Thirty-three children received free haircuts/styling on this day. Sixty-four people, including parents and family members of the kids receiving haircuts, as well as Boggs School staff and eighteen community volunteers, attended.
“It was very empowering to see the community overcome brokenness and conflict, and unite together for a positive cause,” said ECO’s newest team member Shawnta Ward, who played a major organizing role in the event.
It was an extraordinary event that continued to foster the building of community between the Boggs School and the neighborhood.
I was inspired to write this column by the extraordinarily beautiful murals that cover the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. The comforting aura I felt when I first entered the school community, along with the many inviting smiles, which were not only visible to my eye but felt in my heart, sparked the flame for the passion I have in doing community organizing work for the Boggs School.
I finally found a school for my children that recognizes all people are unique and embraces the uniqueness and the gifts of all students.
The Boggs School is a school that not only sets out to make sure all its students are proficient in math and reading, but its students also develop a sense of their own ethics and morality, character, and community belonging. Its extraordinary staff helped in the transformation of my seven year old son’s attitude toward school; he went from hating the mere thought of heading to school in the morning to wanting to be at the Boggs School all the time, including snow days!
The way the school has fostered growth in my children has inspired me to become deeply embedded in the Boggs School community and to help with the growth and the transformation of community beyond the school’s walls.
When Julia Putman, principal of the Boggs School, asked me to take on a leadership role in ECO, I excitedly said yes. This request came after I had joined the ECO team and was participating in meetings and community conversations. The Boggs school Exploratory Community Outreach group’s goal is to connect the community to the school, the school to the community, and members of the community with each other.
Since stepping up as a lead organizer, I have facilitated neighborhood meetings and engaged with the community at the school and in the neighborhood as well as reaching out to the parent group at the Boggs School. I was happy to get heavily involved and take on a leadership role, because these individuals had already done so much by offering such a fulfilling educational experience to inner city children like my own. I continue to be passionate about the organizing work I am doing to grow and build deeper connections among the Boggs School and the neighborhood surrounding the school.
Planning for the Great Hair Day Escape was a joyous and enlightening process but also a fearful one. As I was planning and facilitating the meetings and canvassing the area with flyers and packets, I felt excited to put my idea and project proposal into action. As the planning for the event ensued during the month of March, the Great Hair Day Escape was becoming more and more of a reality.
This process involved a great deal of learning, growing, and faith. Donations were lower than expected, which was a great worry for me and contributed to some of the fears I had about executing the event well. However, I trusted the process and everything fell into place.
There was a sense of unity among the members of the planning group. We had become the village it takes to raise our children. Community members, who had no children, volunteered their entire day. Board members, teachers, members from the parent group stepped in to support the event. The hairdressers were parents, friends, family, neighbors, teachers, and we all banded together in laughter, surrounded by smiles, pizza, oil sheen and lots of coffee and cake.
Look forward to more articles from members of the Boggs School community. They will be reporting periodically on the Fresh Ideas they are developing as they educate their students to become “Solutionaries.”