Embrace and Accept All – by Tony Thomas

Not only is program accessibility important to the Department, it is also one of our core values. Programs like the Buddy Club and Mia's Bus offer individuals with cognitive or developmental disabilities recreational opportunities.
Not only is program accessibility important to the Department, it is also one of our core values. Programs like the Buddy Club and Mia’s Bus offer individuals with cognitive or developmental disabilities recreational opportunities.

Diversity and acceptance. These two words come to mind when I think about the Manassas Park Community Center. With recent events in our country lately, it is easy to feel like we have become more divided than unified. Everyone has his or her opinion regarding current events and issues, and rightfully so, but lately it feels like there is not much tolerance or acceptance from those of differing opinions.

For me it really was disturbing to see the rally in Charlottesville last month. Hearing hurtful comments about other ethnicities and their citizenship status has been alarming. It seems far too often that the news leads off their nightly broadcast with more and more issues that our country faces that separate us rather than unite us.

I am proud to work for Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation where we embrace diversity and accept everyone for who they are. This is not just limited to our staff, but to our customers and members. Much like our country, the Community Center is a melting pot of different races, genders, religions, and cultures. Although each of us uses the Community Center for different reasons, we all use it for the same purpose, which is, recreation.

I love the fact that we offer such a wide variety of classes that appeal to our diverse populations. This includes language classes such as Spanish, Korean, and Arabic. We offer country line dancing, traditional African-American hand dancing, and a teen LGBTQ group that meets monthly in our teen center. We also offer programs for folks with cognitive and developmental disabilities including the MPCC Buddy Club and Mia’s Bus.

Each year we offer thousands of programs that cater from preschool age to our senior citizen population. That alone continues to show how committed we are to making sure that everyone in all phases of their lives have access to quality recreation in Manassas Park.

Our doors are open to the community every day! Whether that means collaborating with George Mason University and the Prince William Health District to offer a year-round free health clinic for individuals that are underinsured; or working with private businesses to create and maintain our Catherine’s Caring Hands scholarship program for patrons unable to pay for our programs. Our values are clear in that we want to provide accessibility for everyone.

In fact, accessibility is one of our eight core values. We are very transparent in what the values of our department are. If you ever walk into one of the conference rooms, you will notice pictures on the wall that embody our core values. They are as follows: Excellence, Community, Innovation, Partnerships, People, Environment, Accessibility, and the final one is….DIVERSITY!

As an organization from top to bottom, we embrace who you are and welcome you to the Community Center with a warm smile and firm handshake. I encourage you to look through our MOSAIC and challenge yourself to take a class that you are interested in, meet new people, and learn something new. You will be glad you did.

If you have any questions about any of our programs, please feel free to reach out to me directly and I would be more than happy to assist you.

Thank you for reading and remember to stay positive and know that you are always welcome at the Manassas Park Community Center!

Tony Thomas is the Recreation Services Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at T.Thomas@ManassasParkVA.gov.

 

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