KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local barber supporting a reading awareness program -- Turn The Page KC -- got a surprise from Mayor Sly James on Wednesday, because of how he's helping education in our area, one book at a time.
"I thought it was a good idea, I thought it was a great initiative, I was actually excited to be a part, it made a lot of sense," said Joey Thomas of JoeyCuts.
Thomas is a big supporter of Turn The Page KC, and its Dads Turn The Page campaign.
"We thought what a great place to start this initiative where we actually bring books into the barbershop and encourage dads to take them home, give them to their kids, read them with their kids," said Mike English, the executive director of Turn The Page KC.
English says they stock books in 12 barber shops now -- and they're hoping to grow the program.
"We`re really trying to double the number of kids reading at grade level by third grade," added English.
Mayor Sly James, a big supporter of the organization, showed up at JoeyCuts barbershop today to give Thomas two tickets on Southwest Airlines -- which is also a supporter of the program -- as a thank you for participating.
"Education is the cornerstone of everything," Mayor James said, "It`s vital, if we don`t have children who can read by the time they finish third grade, their chances of success academically diminish greatly."
Thomas says he keeps books in his barber shop because he truly believes in the program.
"Not just men that are fathers but brothers, mentors, uncles, cousins," Thomas added, "To have that moment of bonding, whether it`s 10 minutes or it`s an hour - I think that`s important."
"We try to inspire parents and kids to start reading from a very young age, so that once they get to formal schooling, reading isn`t something they see as school or homework, it`s something they enjoy," said English.
Thomas says he's excited about the tickets -- but he received much more on Wednesday.
"I don`t really think that the mayor knows exactly what he just did for my life," Thomas said, "I've been having a lot of stuff working against me, have a lot of stuff going on, and to be recognized for hard work and dedication and consistency, I truly feel like they are mile marks from God."
JoeyCuts will hold it's eighth annual Fresh Cut Fresh Start community challenge this August - donating free "even-steven" haircuts to young men from kindergarten to 12th grade. For more information, click on this link.