GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On Monday, one thousand students from Burton Middle School paddled onto the Grand River in canoes, many for the first time ever.
The program, which is called “canoe-mobile,” started five years ago and encourages hands-on environmental learning within the Grand Rapids Public Schools.
It’s hard to tell who’s more excited, the students, who rated the experience a resounding “10/10,” or youth advocate Shayla Jarrett.
“They were like ‘Oh that guy is fishing,’ I was like ‘Yeah people fish at the Grand River all the time.’ They don’t realize its the same river that they see when they’re driving through downtown, versus that they’re in their canoeing right now,” Jarrett said
That’s why curriculum director Jonathan Harper says learning experiences like this one are so important, especially considering kids in GRPS may often not experience the beauty in their own backyard.
“Making our community our classroom. Helping our scholars and our families know that they have access to all these beautiful spaces and that they can learn together,” Harper said.
Students learned the importance of water safety and campfire safety from Wilderness Inquiry, the organization that works in conjunction with the City and the school district to bring these lessons to students.
“This is a very rewarding line of work. I love the environment, and I love sharing my knowledge and my passion for the environment to all these kids,” Tyler Bleeker, outdoor guide for Wilderness Inquiry, said.
Canoes will be launching from Riverside Park all week, with Monday only the first day.
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