Annual Back 2 School event gives students new hairstyles, supplies

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CPS students got free backpacks and supplies at the annual Back 2 School event Monday.

Hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students gathered at local hair salons and barbershops Monday to prepare for the new school year at the 16th Annual Back 2 School event.

CPS classes begin Tuesday.

The event is sponsored by Grand Boulevard Coalition and Prevention Services and other groups and was held at five locations, including Issues Beauty Salon in South Loop.

"As a part of the community, it is just great to be able to give back," said Bamani Obadele of Grand Boulevard Coalition and Prevention Services. "So I'm thankful to all the shop owners, all the barbers and the beauticians."

The children who attended the event got free haircuts or hairdos. Participating stylists and barbers donated their time and beauty supplies for the event.

"I grew up in the projects myself, and I know what it's like to be less fortunate," said Issues Beauty Salon owner Yvenetta Welsh. "I just feel like that's my calling, my job to give back."

Keswan Hawkins, 11, said he's starting off the school year right with a fresh low-fade haircut.

"Our mission is to make the first day of school the one of their best days ever," said hairstylist Lyn Turner.

Each child also received school supplies and goodies.

"Unfortunately, we can't help everyone, but those that we can...we're totally on board," said Resa Luster of Luster Products.

The children were not the only ones excited about the program.

"It's just a break for me, being a single mom of four, two boys and two girls," said parent Terronda Harris. "Yes, it's a blessing."

Even amid the excitement, there was concern about gun violence and keeping students safe as they return to school.

"Right now, for the school year, we have the Safe Passage Program," said Alderman Pat Dowell of the 3rd Ward.

But for most of the children, Monday was simply an indication of all the good things to come with the start of school.
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