Residents who live on the southwest side of Grand Rapids, a relatively green area, now have the opportunity to take part in more outdoor recreational activities. The city of Grand Rapids Department of Parks and Recreation has activated a free outdoor equipment library which is located on the first floor of. is located Roosevelt Park Lodge in 739 Van Raatle SW. Created to give different communities more equitable access to outdoor activities, Thrive Outside Gear Library allows residents to borrow equipment for free.
Courtesy of the children of our community
The range includes hiking backpacks, binoculars, sleeping bags, hammocks, sledges, cool boxes, hiking boots, lawn games and more. Articles were made available by the Outdoor foundation, Wolverine worldwide, Merrell, Moose jaw, Bill & Paul’s Sports House and UGQ Outdoor, LLC.
Managing Director of The children of our church (OCC) Shannon L. Harris says Grand Rapids is one of eight cities to receive the scholarship Thrive outside of the community.
“As part of this Thrive Outside initiative, we are focused on reversing the declining trend in outdoor engagement by working at the grassroots level to empower our stakeholders to ensure that young people have access to quality, outdoor experiences and repetitive outdoor activities -Have experiences, “says Harris.
Prior to the launch of this program, an advisory committee of several community-based organizations, nature-based organizations, and extracurricular programs looked at how children could be authentically and repetitively connected to nature.
“We started this work almost two and a half years ago, and one of the results of that work is the Gear Library,” says Harris. “We created this equipment library to connect young people with nature, but with a strong focus on young people who live in green areas of Grand Rapids. We were very aware of where the Gear Library would be. “
Thrive Outside Gear library director Sam Truby says the library has found its ideal home.
“The southwest part of Grand Rapids has less parking space per person,” he says. “The neighborhood caught our attention because there is a large Latinx and Hispanic population in Southwest Grand Rapids.” This made the location even more attractive.
“Half of our employees are bilingual, so they are very important to our employees when it comes to giving Latinx families the resources to go outside,” says Truby. “We had explored Grand Rapids and were hoping we could be close to the families who needed our services most. Roosevelt Park really fit that bill and we were thrilled that it was available to us.”
Although the opening ceremony for the Gear Library was on October 11th, Truby has been a long time coming, according to Truby. “The scholarship was awarded in 2019 and we spent a season researching and testing a season of ideas. The Gear Library has actually been open since summer, ”he says.
Though they have an age limit for borrowers, the library works closely with nonprofits and extracurricular programs that make it easier for young people to get their hands on the equipment, Truby says. To rent equipment, residents over the age of 18 must show identification such as a driver’s license, ID card, or post.
“We’re very clear with whoever signs up – we’re not attached to photos of documentaries. We ask for a minimum of information in order to know who you are and to be able to contact you, ”says Truby. Borrowers can usually check out gear for a week, but Truby says staff are flexible with schedules if camping trips go beyond those seven days. “When people go on a two-week camping trip, we want to work with them to support them when we can,” he says.
Equipment library staff are available on site to assist borrowers with equipment demonstrations and games, and require an hour of training if they wish to borrow camping equipment. The Gear Library is currently open Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. To help residents when needed, the library is open all year round.
The city also participates in the National Thrive Outside Day Saturday, October 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Gear Library. There will be free food, outdoor yoga, garden games, giveaways and a DJ.
Sarah lived briefly in Grand Rapids years ago before returning to Lansing, but that love for West Michigan never really left her heart. Through her coverage of small businesses, arts and culture, restaurants, and everything gloved-made, she is committed to convincing anyone and everyone – how great the Great Lakes State is. Sarah holds a degree in Journalism and Professional Communication. You can find them at a record store, a local concert, or a dessert too much at a bakery. If she happens to be in none of these locations, you can contact her at [email protected]