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Russell Vocational High School’s Hairstyling and Horticulture departments put
their heads together to create a unique project focused on student mental
students haven’t been able to experience stylist/client interactions due to
COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of hair care, on Feb. 4 and 5 Hairstyling
students focused on plant care and self-care.
these mannequin heads that we practise cutting hair on. Typically they’d be
thrown out afterwards or maybe used as wig holders,” said Hairstyling
instructor Barbara Parkin.
maybe we could do something different and partner up with Horticulture. We
sawed the tops of the mannequin heads off with the help of the Carpentry
program, dug out the insides and created planters. Then we asked our art
teacher if we could borrow paints and all of a sudden we had a little project.”
took the form of a mental wellness initiative, with Hairstyling students
painting the mannequin head planters as a form of self-expression.
was to express your personal thoughts and inner feelings by painting the
mannequin heads,” Parkin said. “We discussed mental health and how stylists can
relate to the wellbeing of clients.”
the Horticulture teacher down to talk about plants and how they too require
nurturing and how you have to continuously work to maintain them.”
student felt comfortable enough after the Horticulture discussion to start
sharing their feelings with each other. We kept our social distance, but we
were able to share some personal experiences and life goals.”
the project also reduces R.B. Russell’s eco-footprint by repurposing the used
instructor Louise Shachtay said the students planted plants that would thrive
in the school salon, which doesn’t have a whole lot of natural light. She said
they used varieties of Sansevieria, Dracaena, Pothos, and Tradescantia plants,
as well as the herb Moses-in-the-cradle and such succulents as mother of
said every R.B. Russell student and staff member recently received a personal
plant with a “message of hope and the importance of self-care.” She is a firm believer
that plant care is self-care.
“I am a trained horticultural therapist,” Shachtay
said. “I have worked with the elderly, people with dementia, recovering
patients, palliative care, and students with a variety of needs, using plant-based
activities in their treatment to promote wellbeing.”
“With so many restrictions due to COVID-19, it’s important
to bring life and self-care to the students in their salon so they can
truly understand and appreciate the benefits of art and horticultural
“As hairstylists, these students will be working in salons
and interacting with a plethora of people and personalities, so creating an
environment in their salons that is calming and conducive to reducing
stress and anxiety can only help in enhancing the experience for both client
students Jennifer Watson and Jazzmin Paquette said the planter project boosted
their self-esteem during a challenging time.
“I enjoyed that we were able to express our self through
arts and plants,” Watson said.
“I found this project beneficial with my own mental health,
as I am recovering from my own mental health issues and this helped me to stay
positive. It helps to show that people can grow no matter what happens.”
“Since we can't have live clients in our chairs, it’s good
to have a live plant to nurture. In return, it helps cleans the air and the
many designs and colors bring joy to our salon,” Paquette said.
“Just like a client/stylist relationship, I provide my plant
a service and it helps me in return.”
Hairstyling student Tashina Roulette said that plant care
looks a lot like caring for people.
“This project has taught me the value of the client/stylist
relationship and how important it is as a stylist to make your clients feel beautiful
and heard,” Roulette said.
“Sometimes all a client wants is someone to listen. I
learned that you're not only a stylist, you’re also a therapist in a sense.”