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Pacers’ George Hill inspires youth at Barbershop Talk session

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — From the barber’s chair to the classroom, George Washington High School students are tackling daily challenges with the help of Barbershop Talk.

The program aims to provide students with a safe and supportive space for open and honest conversation while getting haircuts. Indiana Pacers player and Indiana native George Hill joined the discussion Wednesday and held an open gym with the kids.

Many students took turns asking Hill questions about his life as a professional basketball player, but the conversation also turned to more serious topics such as dealing with anger and trauma growing up in a tough neighborhood. Hill listened to their stories, and shared some of his experiences growing up in a similar environment and offered encouragement.

“My biggest takeaway was how all the kids talked about interaction with the police officers and how they feel. I broke it down to how I would think a cop would feel approaching a certain situation, and they started to understand a bit better,” Hill said.

Students also talked about how they could apply his advice to their lives.

Ma’Jarion Russell, a freshman, said, “He told us about how the streets were and where he came from and how he came up like us.”

Antonio Patton, chief executive officer of the local nonprofit Men of Vision Empowering, hosts the talks on Wednesday mornings. He says the program is a powerful reminder of the importance of creating safe spaces where young people can openly and honestly without fear of being judged.

“They share the good, the bad, the ugly, and their nasty without being ridiculed or judged,” Patton said.

He also believes good haircuts, tapers, and linings boost confidence and self-esteem.