There are 26 barbers and stylists at The Shop in Hyattsville, Md. Between them, they cut the hair of more than 100 people each day. That’s around 600 people each week, 31,000 heads each year.
Over the last two years, 29 of those customers received a colonoscopy as a direct result of conversations they had with their barbers at The Shop. One of those people, says owner Fredie Spry, was already showing symptoms of colon cancer and is now getting treated. Many more of Spry’s African-American clients learned that the cancer is one of the few that are preventable and — given blacks’ higher-than-average risk for the disease– they should consider getting a first colonoscopy at 45.
“It makes me feel like I’m giving back to the community,” said Spry, who opened The Shop in 2001. “In life, you’re either helping our hurting. You’re part of the problem or the solution.”
The Shop was the first establishment to implement University of Maryland’s Health In-Reach and Research Initiative (HAIR)—a one-of-a-kind outreach program that trains barbers to teach their clients about colorectal cancer and measures, like a colonoscopy, that can prevent it.
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