Exploring our treasured waterways

Students take part in a paddling expedition on the Grand River. Photo courtesy of City of Grand Rapids.

The City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools have joined forces to offer an exciting opportunity to over 800 GRPS students next week at Riverside Park. From May 13 to 17, between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., students will embark on a unique “Canoemobile” paddling experience along the Grand River.

“This annual tradition is a wonderful experience for our scholars to get out of the classroom and explore,” said GRPS Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby. “Our city is fortunate to have such treasured waterways. This event gives our scholars the opportunity to experience firsthand the role that the Grand River plays in what it means to be a part of the Grand Rapids community.”

Collaborating with Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation, GR Outside, Wilderness Inquiry, and Grand Rapids Public Schools, the event will take place at Riverside Park Lagoon (2001 Monroe Ave. NE). Throughout the week, students will partake in various outdoor activities, including paddling eight-passenger canoes, delving into the river’s history and water quality, nature hiking, and cultural history lessons.

On land, educational opportunities will be provided by the City’s GR Outside division and community partners such as Camp Newaygo, Blandford Nature Center, Outdoor Discovery Center, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus, Kent County 4-H, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the City’s Public Works Department.

This marks the sixth occasion that Wilderness Inquiry, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization, has brought its Canoemobile program to Grand Rapids students, aiming to offer hands-on, water-based learning experiences to urban youth nationwide.

“The Grand River is a treasured amenity in the heart of our city,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “Through this experience with Wilderness Inquiry, our young people can learn about the importance of our incredible waterway in an immersive, hands-on way.”

As the Canoemobile week draws to a close, the Grand Rapids community is invited to join in a free Family Paddle Night on May 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Riverside Park (2001 Monroe Ave. NE). Wilderness will provide eight-passenger canoes for 20-minute rides in the lagoon, while food trucks will be on-site from 5 to 9 p.m. as part of Food Truck Fridays, hosted by GR8 Food Trucks.


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