Grand Rapids students get ride on the Grand River

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – 1,000 Grand Rapids Public Schools 8th grade students experienced canoeing Monday along the Grand River as part of the city’s initiative to connect the community with the natural world.

Grand Rapids is one of seven cities nationwide studying ways to better connect students with their city’s natural resources.

Monday, a non-profit from Minnesota called Adventure Inquiry was brought in for a week-long hands-on expedition, teaching inner city students the value of ecological and environmental sciences through canoeing, some taking to the water for the very first time.

There are many partners in this venture including: Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal, Parks and Recreation Director David Marquardt, and partner agencies: Wilderness Inquiry, Blandford Nature Center, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids Environmental Services Division and Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation.

Wilderness Inquiry started roughly 40 years ago as an adventure company connecting people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to the natural world. Julie Storck, the company's Associate Director says despite the program being fun for everyone, it's all about inclusion and overcoming obstacles as a team.

"Yes, kids have an opportunity to learn in an awesome way. But Canoemobile is a strategy and platform which we all come together to work coming goals, from across sectors and agencies, and achieve significant and lasting social change," Storck said.

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