Georgian students use wig-making skills to help kids with cancer

Georgian College hairstyling students are learning more than just how to transform a customer’s look. They’re also learning how to add some joy to a child going through a difficult time in their young lives.

Students at the Barrie campus hair additions class are learning wig-making skills with a plan to donate the final products to young cancer patients. Teacher Michelle Parliament came up with the idea after following the struggles of a former co-worker whose young son was diagnosed with leukemia.

“I don’t even think he was a year old,” she said. “I followed their struggle, both the good and the bad days. I have two wonderful boys of my own and I can’t imagine what she went through. It breaks my heart.

“I was doing research, looking for different ways to teach my students about making wigs, and I came across these patterns showing examples of how to make wigs using yarn. We teach our students about wig making and this is a creative way to learn about the process and we could donate the final product, our wigs, to young cancer patients.”

“I hadn’t thought a lot about the fact that kids get cancer too,” said 21-year-old Breanna Thorn, a hairstyling program student. “It was very eye opening. We’re learning practical skills but we’re contributing to society. It wasn’t something I expected to learn in my program but I love being able to help in some small way to put a smile on a child’s face.”

The class chose a theme of pirates and princesses for their wigs.

“We’re learning about crocheting and knitting too,” said 21-year-old student, Neely Westenbrink. “It’s funny, but these are all skills we can apply in a hair salon after we graduate. But it’s so gratifying and wonderful to utilize what we’re learning in class to also help sick kids.”

Both students are from Barrie and hope to finish their apprenticeship and work in a salon. Neely hopes to own her own place one day in the local area.

Parliament is planning to reach out to a few charity organizations like Ronald McDonald House.

The hairstyling students also recently participated in two Angel Hair for Kids fundraisers at Wasaga Beach. The charity provides wigs and hair-loss solutions for children. The students did hair braiding, mini manicures and provided full styling services to those donating their hair at the event.

Photo: Hairstyling faculty Michelle Parliament (right) assists Neely Westenbrink with the wig-making process.

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