Central Falls launches free youth kayak program; Gov. McKee tests the waters

Blackstone Valley

CENTRAL FALLS, RI (WPRI) — It may be Rhode Island’s smallest city, but Central Falls had some big news for their youth on Friday.

Michael Martin, program director for Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, unveiled a free kayak instruction program for Central Falls kids.

Martin said he hopes that over the summer, more than 200 children from low- to moderate-income families will get a chance to safely head out onto the Blackstone River and navigate the beautiful landscape.

“We’re going to introduce them to the hundreds of acres of recreational space that exists right in their own backyards,” he said. “Central Falls has a beautiful landscape they probably never even knew existed but the Blackstone River flows right through.”

Gov. Dan McKee, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera, former Mayor James Diossa, and acting Department of Environmental Management Director Terry Gray were all on hand for the announcement.

Some of the local leaders, including McKee, got in on the fun and tested out some of the 18 new kayaks and two canoes.

“This is an introduction to not only the history of our river, but the history of our communities and also to nature,” McKee said. “It will open up doors, the kids, they’re going to have one heck of time this summer.”

Martin went on to say they will also offer an “expedition rental program,” which will allow locals to rent out the kayaks for a fee when the youth program isn’t going on.

“The money raised from the rental program will go towards wear and tear, new kayaks, as well as helping keep instructors employed,” Martin added.

The program was made possible through a partnership between the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and the city of Central Falls.

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