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Cuts for Confidence event treats students heading back to school with the 'salon experience'

Cuts for Confidence included face painting, snow cones and, of course, fresh hairstyles.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Stylists from salons all over Jacksonville joined forces Sunday before the first day of school in Duval County to send children back not only looking good on the outside but feeling good on the inside. 

The event, called Cuts for Confidence, included face painting, snow cones and crafts for the students, but it is important to note this is not only a snip-and-go haircut. The stylists worked together to give every child a true salon experience, including shampoo, cut, blow-dry, style and even some hair accessories to take with them.

The event is in its 11th year and was opened to students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

"Just anything to do with confidence when you're starting school and you're nervous about doing anything," said Kimberly Clarke's Salon owner Kimberly Jackson. "If you feel like you look good, you're going to behave well. You're going to want to walk into school like 'OK, this is one less thing that I have to worry about today because my hair looks awesome.'"

Jackson said she got the idea for the event when she volunteered at West Riverside Elementary School years ago. During that time, she was surprised at how many students had never had a real salon experience.

"They were really excited whenever I talked about sitting in the chair and how it pumps up and down and how it turns around and sitting in front of the mirror and what the stylist does," she said.

One local barber could relate to the pressure of making a good impression at school.

"I remember being young, growing up poor, and when it was time to go to school, you know, we didn't have no money to get a nice haircut or my mom would cut my hair with scissors," recalled barber Antonio Benton. "I was always embarrassed going to school and have to deal with the kids picking on us. I said 'When I get older, I want the opportunity to be able to be a blessing to other kids so they won't have to go to school and experience the same things that I had to experience."

Jackson said she notices a difference in the children when they get a fresh look.

"When they leave, I see such a difference in the way that they walk, talk -- everything," she said. "From the moment that I see them when they walk in, whether I cut their hair or it's another stylist. When they leave, they are smiling. They're ready to make friends, it's just a complete change in attitude. And that's what's more important to me than anything."