Give the Gift of Learning – by Sarah Barnett


Manassas Park Parks and Recreation Operations Manager Sarah BarnettFor many, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of year!  Time is spent decorating, baking, catching up with family, and shopping for the perfect gifts to give!  I do most of my Christmas shopping online since I do not have a lot of time to head to the stores.  I am the mother of 2 girls, ages 7 and 9, and like everyone else, I want them to remember why we are giving gifts, and not get too carried away by how many gifts they receive, but to be thankful for what they receive.

Lately, I have seen many social media posts about giving only four gifts. You have probably heard this too! It goes like this…this year let us give:

  • Something you want,
  • Something you need,
  • Something to wear,
  • Something to read!

I love this idea of keeping gift giving simple and not making this special holiday about the amount of gifts!  I think a nice addition to the something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read” would be “something to learn”. As my girls get older, they love learning! It is amazing! Their interests range from learning about gardening, cooking, drawing, and building items such as birdhouses! I am not always the best person to teach them about some of their interests especially drawing, but thankfully, there are so many programs offered here at the Manassas Park Community Center that will teach my daughters these and other new skills. The classes and programs at the Community Center include piano lessons, break dancing classes, cooking lessons, Karate, Yoga (for kids and for adults!), music lessons (for teens), and even wood burning (for adults).

Give the gift of learning this holiday season with a membership to the great programs and classes at the Community Center. Better yet, give the gift of an All Access Passport to the Community Center!  All the classes that I just mentioned are included at no additional charge for All Access Passport members! You can also give the opportunity to learn an important life skill by signing them up for swim lessons!  For teens that know how to swim, give them the gift of a summer job skill by signing them up for the American Red Cross Lifeguard Course on 12/27-12/30 from 10:00am-4:00pm. You may not know this, but I am the person who hires all lifeguards for the Community Center indoor pool, Signal Bay Waterpark, and I start my summer hiring in January!

Another gift that not only keeps giving, but also helps the recipient keep learning are gift cards! The gift cards can be used towards programs, memberships, and rentals!

Have a wonderful holiday season! I hope to see you and your family here sharing, learning, and having fun here at the Manassas Park Community Center!

Sarah Barnett is the Operations/Aquatics Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at

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