Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Hair for a cause

Published:Sunday | September 11, 2016 | 12:00 AMNashauna Lalah
Amir's reaction at seeing himself with short hair for the first time.
Ten inches is the minimum length needed to make a hairpiece. Amir's hair comes in at 25 inches.
Julian Brown makes the first snip of Amir's long locks.
Amir Kidd with his new hairdo.
Wendy Patrickson with her son Amir and daughter Ari.
Amir has been growing his hair from he was six years old to donate to Locks of Love.

As children across the island headed back to school last week, many of them sported snazzy new looks. It's safe to say, however, that Amir Kidd's new look was the biggest head-turner of them all. You see, Amir, a vibrant yet easygoing 12-year-old, had been growing his hair for half his life. Just before going back to school, he had his first haircut in six years.

Why? The story started six years ago, when he and his mother happened upon an article in the newspaper about a man who had donated his hair to Locks of Love - a non-profit organisation that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering hair-loss from various medical diagnosis.

Amir, as young as he was, was struck by the article and told his mother that he wanted to grow his hair and donate it to Locks of Love.

"When he told me, I was impressed," said Wendy Patrickson, Amir's mother. "For him to say that at that age, I was blown away because it was so unexpected."

She also explained that her son decided that he wants to someday become a doctor and help find the cure for cancer, lessening the incidence of medical hair-loss particularly in children.

Patrickson was speaking with Outlook last week, sitting in a St Andrew hair salon next to Amir. The time for the big chop was fast approaching. Amir, perched comfortably in the salon chair, withe his long hair covering his forehead, reflected on his six-year journey.

"There are children with no hair and mine grows so fast, so I should give it to them," he told Outlook. "I don't like seeing people sick. One day you're fine and healthy and the next day, here comes cancer."

He must have become attached to his long hair, so when asked how he felt now that the day of reckoning had arrived, he shrugged his shoulders.

"I have mixed emotions. I've always wanted to cut it but now, I have mixed emotions," he said.

While attending school in North Carolina (the family moved to Jamaica three years ago) he was comfortable with his long hair. His friends there had got used to the look. However, outside of school, he would attract stares. In Jamaica, the stares continued. "It doesn't matter to me," he said. "They would ask if I'm a girl. Even if I'm in a manly outfit they would go straight to a girl."

His mother added: "Everywhere we went people were fascinated and asked. Some would say, 'don't cut it, it's beautiful'."

Julian Brown would be making the cut. Scissors in hand, she approached Amir. Six years and 25 inches of hair had come to this. Clip! There was an audible gasp not from Amir, but for his mother who had her hand over her heart.

Amir seemed quite content, but anxious to see the end result. Several scissor-snips later, a new Amir was revealed.

"It's not what I expected but I will take it! I thought it would be curlier," he said, his eyes wide.

Amir's sister, Ari who had been watching quietly nearby said: "Looking at this new boy in front of me, it's weird."

A few days after the haircut, Outlook spoke with Patrickson to find out how Amir was adjusting to his new look. She revealed that he was doing just fine. "He says, 'Mommy, now I'm just a part of the crowd, nobody looks at me anymore'," she said. "If Amir is fine then I'm fine and Amir is fine. Every minute he is in the bathroom wetting and spiking his hair," she laughed.

So, the six-year journey of a young boy determined to help others had a happy ending. He is happy with his choice, and his new look. Meanwhile, his long hair is on its way to a child who needs it more.