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Grand Rapids opens gear library to help connect more residents to outdoor activities

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Posted at 4:27 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 16:27:35-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids’ Parks & Recreation Department has opened a new gear library to provide more equitable access to outdoor activities.

There’s a targeted focus on serving neighborhoods that are “green deficient,” according to a news release Monday.

The gear library is located on the first floor of the Roosevelt Park Lodge and offers free outdoor equipment from camping to birding, sledding to playing croquet.

It’s open from 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Funding and gear for the project is provided by the Outdoor Foundation, Wolverine Worldwide, Merrell, Moosejaw, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus and UGQ Outdoor, LLC.

“I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations from the Outdoor Foundation and express our gratitude for Grand Rapids’ dedication to breaking down equity barriers that exist in connecting people with the outdoors,” said Stephanie Maez, managing director of the Outdoor Foundation. “This gear library will have a real impact in the lives of so many by helping connect many kids and families with nature.”

Grand Rapids is one of eight Thriving Outside communities celebrating National Thrive Outside Day this upcoming Saturday, Oct. 16.

The city will host a free outdoor event at the gear library from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with free food, a live DJ, outdoor yoga, yard games, giveaways and more.

“Our National Thrive Outside Day events at the gear library will lift up the critical role nature plays in the lives of our young people,” OCC Executive Director Shannon L. Harris said. “Studies have shown that nature improves mood and sleep quality along with promoting one’s physical well-being. The gear library serves as a conduit for those benefits.”

The Thrive Outside Initiative focuses on “reversing the declining trend of outdoor engagement by working at the grassroots level, empowering communities to make outdoor recreation an accessible lifestyle for all.”

The initiative awards multi-year, capacity-building grants to diverse communities to build and strengthen networks focused on providing children and families with repeat and reinforcing experiences in the outdoors.