Vernon Jackson began Gifted Program haircuts at Noble Barber and Beauty after ‘hearing so many horror stories’ at other shops, reported the Guardian.
Even on his days off Vernon Jackson goes in to work at his barbershop in Cincinnati – it’s because that’s the day he has set aside to give free haircuts to children with special needs.
The kindness which Jackson offers at his Noble Barber and Beauty shop earned a profile from CBS News this week. Jackson told the network he began his Gifted Program haircuts in 2021 after “hearing so many horror stories that parents were going through with … barbers or stylists having no patience with their [children]” at other shops.
Academic research suggests that the reported lack of patience for parents struggling to buy haircuts for their special needs children poses a real dilemma for them. Studies have shown people typically feel more confident and in control in both social as well as professional settings with good, fresh haircuts.
Jackson resolved to sacrifice his day off and open his shop only to children with special needs who were looking to get a proper cut. And what’s more, he tells the children’s parents that their money’s no good there on those days.
“There [are] no other barbers or stylists in the shop, and I [can] give them the full attention they need,” he said in the CBS News report.
Jackson found that at least some of his off-day clients who are sensitive to unfamiliar environments and sounds find the empty shop comforting. His goal is to get the children acclimated to barbershops in general so they can eventually feel comfortable going in for haircuts when there are other patrons around.
Friends and other benefactors sponsor the haircuts that Jackson gives on his day off through donations to an online GoFundMe campaign, according to what he told CBS.
Gifted Program parents “would pay any amount of money just for their child to be able to have an experience like any other person”, he said to the network. “And at the end of it, I can tell them, ‘It’s covered.’”
Those parents often try to tip Jackson a gratuity, he says, but he tells them: “No, trust me … this is a gift from the community, myself – please receive it.”
Instagram users flood Jackson’s account on the platform with encouragement and compliments whenever he posts videos of him cutting the hair of Gifted Program clients.
“I have happy tears,” one user wrote in the comments of a video that Jackson posted showing him lining a Gifted Program boy up in March. “You are truly doing amazing things.”