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Posted at 12:23 PM ET, 10/28/2011

Johnny Wright reads to schoolchildren in Anacostia

Johnny Wright, Michelle Obama's personal hairstylist works on assistant Chelsea Turner's hair at Corte, a hair salon in the U Street area. (DOMINIC BRACCO II - The Washington Post)
The three-year-olds smiled and screamed with joy as Johnny Wright made the sounds of a ‘choo-choo’ train while reading Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could.”

Wright, a native of Chicago, is best known for styling the hair of celebrities including First Lady Michelle Obama. But the pre-schoolers--who had no idea who he was--were so excited about their guest that their teacher could hardly get them to close their eyes for nap time.
Washington, D.C. - October 27, 2011: Reonna, 3, holds the book "The Little Engine That Could." (Hamil R. Harris - The Washington Post)

“It was awesome to have story time with the kids,” said Wright after his guest reading appearance at the Salvation Army’s Solomon G. Brown Community Center in Anacostia on Thursday.

Danella Sealock, the traffic reporter for NBC4, read the book “Bats at the Library,” by Brian Liess during the event.

Tanetta Merritt, director of the early childhood center, said the time these children spend being read to is invaluable.

“It means a lot that children east of the Anacostia River get these time of opportunities,” she said. “They should have been doing this for years. These children deserve the best like anyone else.”

The event was the brainchild of a group of seniors in public relations from American University.

In addition to reading to the children, Xavier Viteri, 21, said that they are also organizing a flag football game and other events on the AU campus to raise money for the Southeast Children’s Fund, a non-profit designed to assist residents in Wards 7 & 8.

Wright started his career in the basement of his mother’s home. Now, he has a swanky salon in Northwest. “I just try to help people to feel good about themselves.”

He takes the same attitude with children. “Children should never be told that they can’t do something,” he said. “They should have am ‘I can do it attitude.’”

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Categories:  Hamil R. Harris

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