ShopTalk is a simulated barber shop and nail salon program designed to provide places for middle school age youth to engage in conversations about issues of concern. The settings imitate the places where men and women in the community engage in similar activities and conversation.
The only cost for the services, haircuts for the young men and manicures for the young women, is the risk of opening up to others. Licensed technicians donate their time as a way of giving back to the community. The young men engage in the sharing of the lessons of life with the participation of a facilitator and two to three barbers.
The young women engaged in conversation around an oblong table. One young person receiving a manicure while the others responded to the discussion questions. At the beginning of the session the young women wrote their questions on a card and dropped them in a container. Cards were drawn, read and the resulting discussions were led by two to three female facilitators.
Examples of topics varied among the young men and young women. The former group was concerned about strained communication with adults, and the latter group their perception of how they are perceived by other youth. There was also a significant amount of perception about not being liked and thus being excluded, being talked about, and having eating disorders.
Clearly in 2020, there is much for the generations to come to the table to work on to strengthen the village. Where shall we look on both ends of the spectrum to share these leadership roles? Although equal in value, the voices are different. Listen for the still speaking voice of God in the smallest of persons.