PIECE hypes hair to help kids

Beth McHenry

The sassy sounds of cheerleaders from the movie “Bring It On” filled the Riverview Lounge Saturday, accentuated by the occasional spritz of a spray bottle. Hair Hype, a fundraiser sponsored by PIECE (Privileged Individuals Engaged in Community Enrichment), was in full swing by mid-afternoon. Seven PIECE women braided hair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to raise money for PEACE Project, a program that PIECE has supported in Jamaica and Appleton for the past several years.Hair Hype marks the fourth year PIECE has raised money for the PEACE Project, a free program that teaches conflict resolution to children in Jamaica. Volunteer college students spend two summer weeks in Jamaica helping students to evaluate conflict situations and improve problem-solving skills. PEACE Project uses role-playing, discussions, cultural songs, and games such as “the human pretzel” and “alien shoe tie” to teach 7- to 2-year-olds better ways to solve interpersonal conflicts. Schools that have participated include Lawrence, St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. PIECE has also established similar programs in the Appleton area at Edison Elementary and Richmond Elementary.

In past years, PIECE has sponsored fundraising projects during Lawrence’s Celebrate! festival. Since the event was cancelled in January of 2004, PIECE independently produced and promoted Hair Hype this year. Despite these complications, organizer Marisol Cummings says that the group is pleased with the relatively good turnout. PIECE distributed flyers to College Avenue businesses, in addition to publicity around campus, and enjoyed a steady stream of patrons from both Lawrence and residential Appleton. According to Cummings, Appleton residents have always had an interest in braiding, which allowed PIECE to turn a healthy profit this year despite the loss of the Celebrate! venue.

Depending on the overall success of Saturday’s Hair Hype, PIECE may introduce a second fundraiser later in the term. Despite all of the hype, including braiding, money, publicity, and teen cheerleading movie, members of PIECE never lost sight of their purpose. Said Cummings, “Yes, we’re braiding hair. Yes, we’re raising money, but Hair Hype is ultimately all about supporting PEACE project in Jamaica.