Indiana barbershops offer more than a haircut

King's Barbershop in Fort Wayne

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Haircuts and health don’t necessarily go together, but local barbershops think differently. Ten Fort Wayne shops participated in the Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative Saturday. It provided free screenings to raise health awareness.

The Fort Wayne shops that participated in the initiative are:

  • Agape Kutz, 2309 Spy Run Ave.
  • Above Average Barbershop, 354 E. Petit Ave.
  • King’s Barbershop, 1716 E. Pontiac St.
  • Jerrel’s Barbershop, 2104 S. Clinton St.
  • Unity Barbershop, 921 E. Pontiac St.
  • Turn-N-Headz, 4234 S. Calhoun St.
  • Precision Cuts, 7504 S. Anthony Blvd.
  • Qnic Cuts, 3205 E. Paulding Rd.
  • 2K Tight Barbershop, 3207 S. Lafayette St.
  • Spirit Clips Barbershop, 2411 Hobson Rd.

More than 50 shops, 200 barbers, and 15 cities across the state participated in the initiative.

Recent data from the state health department shows African American men have the highest mortality rate of any group in Indiana. Barbers like Lewis King and Chad Williams said the conversation about health can all start with the right cut.

“Well the barbershop is the cornerstone of the community. We do a lot of things in the community. We meet the needs. We deal with a lot of issues, and today, it’s about health,” Lewis King of King’s Barbershop said. “This is something that we’ve been doing for five years. It’s something that’s very needed in the community. We set up, people come, they get their hair cut and then they get the screening.”

Clients came in for more than just the perfect cut at King’s Barbershop on Pontiac Street.

“Sometimes we are statistics because of the fact that we don’t keep up with our health. We tend to watch after the children and make sure our wives or girlfriends are taken care of, but we neglect ourselves. A lot of the times they’ll go to the barbershop before they’ll go to the doctor and they’ll tell me about what’s going on. Now, we have the tests right here,” King said. “Health is something that men sometimes, they run from. They don’t really want to talk about the issues that are going on, and I think that when they come into their environment that they’re used to everyday, they’re comfortable and they’re open to the fact that they need to a look at their health and see what’s going on. We have families that we need to be around for, and it’s very important for us to take a look at ourselves like we look at our families.”

Volunteer nurses offered screenings for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, and information on colon cancer and HIV/AIDS. It’s advice Bruce Shumate didn’t expect to find at the barbershop.

“People aren’t really aware of health or maybe not looking at it like they should, you know, i.e. me, myself, I’m kinda like that you know,” Shumate said. “It’s impressive to see that someone is trying to put something together to get an idea of what’s going on in our communities.”

The 63-year-old came in for a haircut and walked out with a lot more.

“They checked my sugar. They checked my blood pressure, and then we talked about colonoscopies,” Shumate said.

King said the screenings aren’t just to teach adults about their health.

“What I like about it is the children are able to see the men taking part in getting the services done and I think it’s a good idea. My son has been here all day. He’s been here every year, and he’s been watching his dad participate in this. It’s something that we need to encourage children as a generational thing to be able to watch the men go get their health screenings done,” King said.

Across town at Agape Kutz, Chad Williams was also happy to help out.

“People’s guards are more down at the barbershop. They’re more ampt to try something different and new because it’s a relaxed setting. Most people come and unwind here,” Williams said.

Williams said around 25 people got screened at his shop Saturday. It’s a number he’s glad has grown every year.

“It actually feels good to bring a platform to something like that that could end up saving somebody’s life. I’m happy to be a part of something like that,” Williams said.

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