City, GRPS to host water experience program

Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids this week is partnering with Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) on an outdoor program for students.

Throughout the week, 1,000 GRPS students will participate in Canoemobile, a program from Minnesota-based nonprofit Wilderness Inquiry, at Riverside Park, at 2001 Monroe Ave. NE in Grand Rapids.

Students have the opportunity to engage in several outdoor activities, including paddling nine-passenger canoes on the Grand River, learning about the waterway, water quality testing, nature hiking and cultural history lessons.

Land-based educational opportunities also will be provided by Thrive Outside Grand Rapids and other community partners.

“Canoemobile is a special opportunity for GRPS students to connect with our city’s natural resources and the Grand River,” said David Marquardt, the city’s parks and recreation director. “This program aims to redefine our community’s relationship with the river by turning the Grand River into an outdoor classroom.”

This is the fourth time the Canoemobile program has been offered to GRPS students. The event was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.

“I’m thrilled for the return of this unique experience for our students to get outside and explore their community in new and different ways,” said Leadriane Roby, superintendent of GRPS. “Many of our students don’t have the opportunity to experience our region’s lakes and rivers. Canoemobile makes it possible and gives them a chance to learn about the important role the Grand River plays in our daily lives.”

Following this week’s educational opportunities for students, the program will finish with a family paddle night from 5-8:30 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Riverside Park.

Ten-passenger canoes provided by Wilderness Inquiry and single-passenger kayaks provided by the city’s parks and recreation department will be available for free 20-minute rides.

Food trucks will be on site from 5-9 p.m. as part of Food Truck Fridays, hosted by GR8 Food Trucks.

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