EDGE! project gives youth hands-on auto experience
Jonathan Bishop assists Tina Barber of the auto craft shop in repairing the EDGE! Program's Junkyard Project, a 1989 GMC Sierra that has been out of use for half a decade. EDGE! participants will continue to work on the truck through the beginning of next year.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 24, 2011) -- Learning how to repair a vehicle is something many adults never do, but the Fort Rucker EDGE! Program is giving children the chance to get an old truck back in working condition while learning skills that will last a lifetime.

EDGE! Program, which stands for Experience, Develop, Grow and Excel, began the Junkyard Project in October and will continue to repair the truck at the auto craft shop through January.

A small group of children have already made several repairs to the 1989 GMC Sierra that had been used by the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation until it was replaced about five years ago, said Tina Barber, auto craft mechanic. The truck sat in the auto craft back lot until EDGE! began repairs, leaving it with rusted rear wheels and in need of several other repairs.

"They've already replaced the two back tires and sparkplugs, as well as manually rotate the engine," she said.

EDGE! is a free DFMWR program that provides youth with art, fitness, life skills and adventure activities, according to Denise Honeycutt, DFMWR partnership specialist. Learning to repair a car is just one of many skills EDGE! hopes to give participants.

"We're teaching them a life skill -- how to take care of their vehicle and their Family's vehicle. They learn stuff they can use in the future. Not only do the children learn, but I learn new things, too," said Honeycutt,

Emily Pierce, who has been coordinating the program, said that she has also learned a lot about repairing cars while watching the children work each week.

"My dad's a mechanic, but I never spent time learning to do what he does. Now, I know how to change sparkplugs and other useful things! Their actions speak so loudly. They're covered in grease because they love the hands-on activity," she said.

"They can go away having this knowledge, and the car is a way to show people what they can do on Fort Rucker through the services we provide. One aspect of the EDGE! program is not only teaching children, but also informing them of what's available," said Honeycutt, who also explained that the children will soon get to learn about painting and possibly upholstering the car's interior in the coming months.

While EDGE! and the auto craft shop have local body shop owner Bo Blackmon involved in painting and replacing damaged parts of the truck's body, they hope that more members from around the community will lend their time to teaching upholstery and minor damage repair.

"We're always looking for volunteers. Anyone with skills that they'd like to share with children can get in touch with EDGE! The children love getting different aspects of knowledge from different people. They're able to bounce ideas off of each other," she said.

Barber said that the project has been great for the shop and the children. She explained that the atmosphere of the shop changes for the better when the children are there, and each child contributes their own special set of skills to the repairs.

"These kids are so funny. This little block of time with the children is a great change of atmosphere. It's a cool environment for people to come and hang out and learn. These skills also save the Army Family a lot of money. After people come to the auto craft shop and learn to do the repairs, they never have to pay for those repairs again," she said.

To volunteer or participate in the EDGE! Junkyard Project, call 255-2375. For more information on the auto craft shop, call 255-9725.

Page last updated Wed November 23rd, 2011 at 00:00