8-Year-Old Barber Helps Her Community By Giving Free Haircuts To Kids In Need

Neijae Graham-Henries is arguably the world’s youngest barber. The eight-year-old from Philadelphia has recently become a certified barber, giving free haircuts to kids in her community.

After going with her brother to visit the Junior Barber Academy, she became interested in haircuts, even though her brother passed on the school. “She wasn’t intimidated because she was the youngest student and she was not intimidated because she was the only female,” Neijae’s mother Jamie Graham says.

The second grader is being mentored by local barber P. Michael Boone, who has been in the business for 25 years. Boone decided to design the six-week program at the academy for young men. “I wanted to teach young men to be self-sufficient and cut their own hair when they went away to college,” he says. “My students learn the fundamentals of men’s haircuts — safety, cleanliness, clipper control, and hair strokes.”

Though the veteran barber never expected to see a young woman in his class, he was impressed by Neijae's eagerness to learn and offered her the same guidance as his older students, he said. The young girl, who never missed class, completed the program and began immediately working as a volunteer. Boone organized an event for kids in Philadelphia and roughly 400 youngsters showed up for free haircuts. Neijae came along to help out, even bringing her own clippers.

“I teach my students to give back and do community service, whether it’s haircuts for young kids their age or older folks,” Boone says.

When Boone was growing up, there often wasn’t enough money for the family to get haircuts. After being repeatedly bullied for not having a fresh cut, he decided to trim his own hair with his friend’s dad’s clippers. He was soon making his own money from cutting hair, which surprised his mother, who at first thought he might be involved in something illegal.

To prove her wrong, she insisted that he cut his hair while she watched. Impressed with his skills, she bought him a pair of clippers for Christmas. After he turned 18, he paid his way through a private barber school. Unfortunately, he failed the theoretical part of the exam, despite passing the practical part. Discouraged and disappointed, he cut hair for 14 years without a license. However, after he started his own family, he was motivated to go back.

“The power was going back to school, learning all the things that a barber can do,” the father of three says. “And when I learned that a barber can do facials and can do more things than just cut hair, I started adding those things to my shop."

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Inspired by Neijae’s dedication, Boone will offer another training program this fall. “I am very proud of her. She was a great student, and I am excited to see where this will take her,” he says. He has already asked the young barber to join him at an event for the homeless that he will sponsor in November.

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