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Community

How to get a life-changing haircut — and stay safe on the train tracks at the same time

The young man in the barber chair was getting a haircut. If that seems just like another day in Miami, it wasn't.

This wasn't your average barbershop either. It was in the BuzzBoxx: a mobile barbershop in the back of a see-through truck.

By the time the barber Andrew Rhagnanan was finished giving the young man a haircut, the teen was like a different person. And we're not talking just hairstyle.

"When I gave him a haircut, his whole demeanor changed — he was smiling, he was more friendly," Rhagnanan said.

Rhagnanan also gave the young man and others at the Overtown Youth Center on June 29 a rundown on how to be safe around train tracks.

This event was part of Brightline and Talent4Change's partnership for BUZZitFORWARD, a project focused on giving underprivileged youth and the homeless haircuts and one-on-one mentorship.

Brightline is the new commuter railroad that runs between West Palm Beach and downtown Miami. The yellow trains run faster and more frequently than the average freight train.

Those who attend a BuzzBoxx event this summer are given an overview on rail safety and sign a rail safety pledge. And they get to look good, too.

Head barber Andrew Rhagnanan gives boy a haircut inside the BuzzBoxx at the Overtown Youth Center's Save our Sons Youth Summit. Mitchell Zachs MagicalPhotos.com


The collaboration is a new effort in the privately owned rail system's endeavor to raise awareness about train safety (no trespassing on the tracks, take off the headphones).

Since test runs began last year, eight people have been fatally struck by Brightline trains.

The company started expanding its outreach efforts in January to encourage the public to "Stay of the Tracks," which includes continuing its partnership with Operation Life Saver.

The summer partnership began at the Overtown Youth Center on June 20 and will run through September.

Antonio Marshall, the OYC training development specialist, is grateful for the impact the haircuts have on the center's young men.

"Their confidence just skyrockets. When they come out, they're smiling and they want to show off their clean haircut," Marshall said.

For the barbers, it's a matter of teaching the young men the importance of planning for their future.

"From my perspective, I don’t think there’s enough people that actually speak to young kids to let them know that some of these bonehead decisions that they're making at a young age— at 14 or 15 years old— can adversely affect them for the rest of their life," said Rhagnanan, the head barber and Regional Director for BUZZitFORWARD. "I can’t change that. I just understand that that’s how our society is. What I can do is talk to them [the kids] while they’re getting their haircut."

BuzzBoxx events

The 14th Annual 4th of July Family Fest presented by Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon

SHAC Broward Outreach Center July: 6, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Overtown Music and Arts Festival: July 14, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

United Way Warrior Wednesdays: July 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Caribbean Market Day: July 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

7th Avenue Medical Back-to-School Health Fair: Aug 4, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

To see the full list of upcoming events, visit https://www.talent4change.org/events.html

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