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Durham Hairstylist Academy and CAS Partner on Caring for Natural Hair

June 30, 2023 | Vision Newspaper |

DDSB’s Durham Hairstylist Academy partnered with Durham CAS to host an educational evening for Black and Black-biracial youth, their families, and their foster families on how to care for natural hair.

The Durham Hairstylist Academy located at GL Roberts CVI hosted the event for members of the community with the initiative growing out of the Youth Council at the Durham Children’s Aid Society.

“Durham CAS have a youth council that have been doing a lot of great advocacy work,” says Shailene Panylo, Durham CAS Diversity Initiatives & Community Engagement Lead and DDSB Oshawa Trustee. “[The council] are all youth who are in care or previously in care or involved in the CAS in some way. They are trying to improve the system for youth who are currently in care and coming after them. They are the ones who really pushed us to prioritize this initiative, especially for Black and Black-biracial, or racialized youth in care, making sure that we have appropriate education, products, and resources for children and families.

“Black, Black-biracial natural hair care has always been something that was lacking in our system in child welfare. It is important that we create a safe space for learning specifically with foster parents, kinship parents, and youth who are in care.”

Durham Hairstylist Academy Instructor Mykael Jackman was eager to make this event happen.

“I’m all about hair so I’m really enthused about this opportunity,” says Jackman. “I found out about the awesome things she (Shailene) is doing, and I thought it was great to partner.

“We were in contact with Shailene, who was once a student at Durham Hairstylist Academy. As she is working with CAS, we were excited to teach many families how to care for their children’s hair and help to provide them with product, provide them with skills, and provide them with the care like nighttime regimes and identifying the right products for their curl patterns and just answering the many questions people have to make sure their hair is well maintained.

“I really related to this idea because I know people want to do better in the hair care for their Black and Biracial children. The feedback from each student showed how grateful they are for the information.”

Nicoli Strickland attended the event and found it helpful.

“I want to learn how to do different cultures’ hair and how different everyone’s hair is,” says Strickland, a high school student who attended the evening and plans on pursuing further studies to become a hairstylist. “Some of the stuff I learned here today will help me when I go to hairstyle college.”

Panylo, who was also once a child in care and helped to organize the event, found it long overdue.

“I was involved in the CAS as a child and I was adopted and I grew up in a family that did not know how to do my hair,” says Panylo. “This was something my mom could have used. Hair is such a big part of everyone’s identity.

“Even at a young age we know children are treated differently at school depending on how they look. It means a lot,” says Panylo, as she recalls how one young participant expressed her gratitude. “At the very end, there was a little girl who came up to me and said, ‘My hair looks like you.’ Even at a young age, we know children are treated differently at school depending on how they look. An event like this means a lot.”

For more information on the Durham Hairstylist Academy visit:


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