NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – In Nashville’s Edgehill community, bicycles are not just a way to get around, they are a way to get out.
Terry Key started the Edgehill Bike Club as a way to teach kids life skills that enhance their chance to leave the neighborhood for a better life.
Known as Mr. Terry, his personality is bigger than life and he has a heart to match. He said his goal is to give the kids a view of the world that’s bigger than their front yard.
While living in the shadow of downtown Nashville can be tough, Mr. Terry hopes to help impact children’s lives.
“I love this neighborhood because I was a kid who grew up in a rough neighborhood just like this,” he explained to News 2.
Mr. Terry said he is working to save the children in Nashville’s Edgehill Apartments, where he lives with his wife and three children.MORE: Edgehill Bike Cub adopts MTA bus stop to help keep community clean
Bicycles have helped connect Terry with the children in his neighborhood. Four years ago he created the Edgehill Bike Club with 40 bikes that were donated by Hands on Nashville.
“What I do is kind of giveaway these bikes, teach these kids how to fix these bikes [and] let them be responsible for the bikes,” he explained.
Club meetings bring neighbors together and give the young members a chance to work on their bikes.
“I’ve been here for two years and what bikes do for you is it helps you get places faster,” said bike club member D’mayah.
While making repairs and taking responsibility of their bikes is only part of Mr. Terry’s goal. He said exposing the kids to the world beyond Edgehill is crucial.
“We just try to bring these kids to different places,” he said. “Let them see it’s a bigger world out there and you don’t have to be stuck in this just one neighborhood.”
Mr. Terry’s daughter said she knows her dad is right. She graduated Hillsboro High School last spring despite sometimes doing homework on the floor while dodging gunfire.
“That bothered me, but she got out of the neighborhood. She got a full ride to Chattanooga, she got her own apartment now, and she’s a young lady that made it through,” the proud father explained.
He added it’s the kind of future he wants for all Edgehill kids, but Terry said he knows neighborhood peer pressure that often leads to trouble is powerful.
“Even if the kids are doing good in school, they still got to come to this rough neighborhood and put on that face just to get off the school bus and get to the house,” he said.
This year, the Edgehill Bike Club awarded four scholarships to help neighborhood kids go to college.
“When you can be somebody who is hopeful, who is there for them, then they are attracted to that [and] want to be a part of that,” said Elizabeth Moss with Edgehill Bike Club.
“These kids are our future,” added Mr. Terry. “We just need to keep on going, keep trying, dream big and never give up. You know how to dream and never give up.”
During the last three years, the Edgehill Bike Club has given away 1,000 bikes.
Click here for more information on the Edgehill Bike Club.Click here for more of Anne Holt’s Tennessee stories.