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GRHIC and Randolph County Family Connection Host Haircuts & Hams Health and Wellness Event for Men

By Harvey Lee Moody, Community Resource and Assessment Specialist

The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) embarked on a challenge to meet the health and wellness needs of rural Georgia citizens through a state-of-the-art approach via partnerships with barbers and beauticians. The sole mission of the Barbershop & Beauty Shop Health Initiative is to bring health promotion programs where many people feel most comfortable in their communities.

On November 4, GRHIC partnered with Randolph County Family Connection for a Haircuts & Hams wellness event, which aimed to bridge the gap in engagement with the male demographic in the county. More than 80 men attended the event held at Unique Images Barbershop and Salon in Cuthbert.

Kuanita Murphy, PhD, executive director of the Randolph County Family Connection, saw a need to directly engage with the male population after noting their absence from community events. “I always noticed that we have plenty of women and children at events,” said Dr. Murphy, “but the male demographic was not engaged at all.” Inspired by a similar event done in the surrounding area and the success of Family Connection’s previous barbershop talks, a plan for Haircuts & Hams was developed.

During the Haircuts & Hams event, participants had their height, weight, and blood pressure checked by the Randolph County Health Department and glucose measured by Mercer Medicine Clay County, which also provided educational material on diabetes and glucose range guides. The event also featured information on telehealth from Giving Health and medication management from Jessica Jones, PharmD, from Shellman Pharmacy.

Following their health screenings, participants were treated to a free haircut and received a ham. Haircuts were provided by Unique Images Barbershop and Salon. Freddrick B. Cannon, the barbershop owner and operator, expressed a commitment to reshaping the narrative around male wellness in his community. “I want to be able to interact with the guys and let them know that we are thinking about them, and they’re not forgotten,” said Cannon. He said that showcasing community care for men will inspire them to take a more proactive role in their health and well-being.

Sen. Freddie Powell Sims recognizes the many challenges faced by her constituents in rural Georgia. She first alerted GRHIC to the Haircut & Hams program. With the local hospital’s closure in Randolph County, immediate access to health care and disease prevention has become a concern. Sen. Sims supports events like Haircuts & Hams for their lasting impact on the community. “I want people to spread the word. Let folks know that, okay, we may not have our hospital here, but there are so many [other] things that can be done to facilitate our needs,” she said.

Preliminary plans are underway to offer similar events to other rural Georgia counties in Spring 2024 and beyond. For more information on the Barbershop & Beauty Shop Health Initiative, contact Harvey Lee Moody III at moody_h@georgiaruralhealth.

Pictured: Freddrick B. Cannon, owner of Unique Images Barbershop and Salon in Cuthbert, gives a free shave to a participant of the Haircuts & Hams event.