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Posted under: News

Washington D.C. Kindergarten Teacher Gives Students A ‘Holiday Hook-up’ With Self-Care Day

Azel Prather Jr. brought in hair stylists, barbers, nail techs so his students can celebrate the holidays in style.

Azel Prather Jr. decided to send his students into the Christmas holiday looking fresh, inviting a team of barbers, hairstylists and nail technicians to his kindergarten class as part of his “Holiday Hook-up” self-care day.

The dedicated pre-k and kindergarten teacher at KIPP DC Arts and Technology Academy in Washington, D.C. took to Twitter to post photos of the 40 kids smiling with clean cuts.

"It's our Christmas hook-up. We're giving out manicures, they're getting their hair done. It's just our way of bringing resources into the community. If you look good you feel good, if you feel good you look good. They’re going to go into Christmas feeling good about themselves," Prather told local outlet WUSA9.

"Kids can be a little rough. They joke on each other. So just boosting the kids' confidence and self-esteem is always good," barber Joe Douglas said in an interview with WUSA9.

Prather spoke to Because Of Them We Can about his program and what he hoped to accomplish by bringing in the stylists. 

“Students have to know someone who looks like them and talks like them, and cares about them…inside and out of the classroom,” he told the inspirational news outlet. 

He has worked as a kindergarten teacher for four years and told Because Of Them We Can that he tapped into his own network to find volunteers willing to help his students, some of whom could not afford haircuts on their own. 

Volunteers brought combs, brushes, beads, hair bows and nail polish with them as they gave each child a top-of-the-line hairstyle or cut.

According to Because Of Them We Can, Prather said the children's parents were grateful for the help as the Christmas season approached. 

"I just look forward to seeing the smiles on their faces. We know what goes on. Sometimes the parents may be working a lot of jobs and they don't have the time to do it," Prather told WUSA9.

Prather took to Twitter on Wednesday to thank everyone for assisting him with the self-care day for the students. Not only did the students enjoy their special moment, one parent was almost brought to tears when she saw her child, according to Prather.

Prather is also the executive director of The Prather Foundation which aims to provide under-resourced communities with tools to turn young people into leaders. He manages another positive effort called the “Zelf on the Shelf” toy drive, which donates gifts to children. 

After reaching out to his Twitter followers for help buying gifts for 26 of his students, he was flooded with funds that allowed him to help the entire school.

In his interview with WUSA9, Prather said, "We’ve had Christmas experiences. We know what it feels like to wake up and get gifts, but a lot of [students] won’t. We try to bring that to them," he said. "It’s like a big joy factor for me. These kids face things you could never imagine, but they come to school every day and smile, so why not give them that joy?"

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