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Program Helps City Kids Fix Bikes, Build Confidence

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- For many kids, a bicycle is their ticket to freedom. It's faster than walking, and once you own one, it's free to use. But there are many kids and their parents who can't afford to buy a bike.

Near Penn station, in a small space, BYKE is Baltimore Youth Kinetic Energy Collective. Many bikes were thrown away or donated, almost junk. But here, they're diamonds in the rough. Mostly, the mechanics are kids.

"The main medium we work with is bicycles, so young people can come fix their bicycles, they can earn bicycles," says Chavi Rhodes, founder of Bike Collective.

Adult mechanics show the kids' how to do the work.

"I'd rather teach and mentor than get paid to do it," says Lee "Sticks" Peterson, Lead Mechanic at BYKE.

Peterson has been here from the beginning. He's one of the mentors who encourages them to follow the rules, put in the time, and teaches them to rebuild a bike to keep.

"When they're in here something positive is happening," says Rhodes.

There are plenty of tools, but the most important ones don't hang on the wall.

"They give them something they don't have, which is a good mentor," says Peterson.

But more than a do it yourself bike shop --  it's a hangout, a tight weave in the fabric of a neighborhood in need. A place where an 11-year-old can help others.

"People ask me if I can fix their bike and I say yeah, and I'll ask what do you need me to do and I'll fix their bikes," says BYKE Volunteer Tyree Allen.

"I find it interesting and my dad always said you need to commit to stuff, and so, I committed to this," says volunteer Sean Bushee.

"They feel better, at the end of the day, they got some love. If they need the shop to run back to that love? I want them, open arms," says Peterson.

The BYKE Collective is on Oliver Street. It is open three days a week. Wednesdays are for girls only.

For more information about BYKE Collective CLICK HERE.

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