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Charlotte, NC— Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation invites interested citizens and media to the grand opening of a new bicycle trail specially developed to serve neighborhood youth and users with disabilities at 10am, Saturday, October 17, 2009. The event takes place near the Boulevard Homes complex and Little Rock neighborhood off West Blvd--on the site of a future Mecklenburg County community park. Attendees should park cars at Southview Recreation Center, 1720 Vilma St.

The grand opening ceremony will be at the start of the bicycle trail, behind the recreation center. Even though construction of the 84 acre park is on hold because of County funding restraints, three non-profit organizations partnered with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation to build, operate and maintain this special trail. The Tarheel Trailblazers (a mountain bike club) secured a $5,000 grant from the North Carolina Adopt-A-Trail Program to build the trail with a volunteer workforce. The Dirt Divas (an all female mountain bike club) secured a $15,000 grant from REI to donate 15 bicycles.

The Charlotte chapter of Trips for Kids will operate their Ride Program from this trail. The program takes kids from low income families on mountain bike rides for fun and to promote personal achievement and self-empowerment. Their Earn a Bike Program gives a child a bicycle after completing hands-on lessons in bike mechanics, safety and personal growth.

The “gently challenging” new trail was designed and built both for young riders from the surrounding neighborhood, as well as to allow operation of the Tarheel Trailblazers adaptive sports program for physically-challenged riders. The program lends off-road hand cycles (mountain trikes) to physically challenged individuals, free of charge.

Scheduled to make brief remarks at the grand opening are Mecklenburg County Commissioner Vilma Leake, Park and Recreation Commissioner John Barry, Park Operations Director Greg Jackson, Tarheel Trailblazers President Jim Grover, Patty Smith of Dirt Divas and representatives from REI and Trips for Kids.

Attendees are invited to go on a trail ride after the ceremony.