We Never Stop Learning – by Jacquelyn Tyre-Perry

Manassas Park Parks and Recreations School Age Recreation Specialist Jacquelyn-Tyre PerryAs some of you may know, I am the Recreation Specialist for School Age Programming here at the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. Working with school age kids every day is a tangible reminder of how critical learning is. Even as adults, training and development is key to growth in our careers. Fortunately, the Recreation Services Division recently had the rewarding opportunity to attend various trainings with the help of a grant through Social Services.

I love what I do, and like the rest of the staff here, I welcome all learning opportunities. Even though I was excited to attend the seminar, I could not help but to cross my fingers for a bought of the flu when I heard the words “training” or “meeting.” However, I cannot deny the great value I ultimately end up walking away with.

The most recent training I attended was on Early Childhood Mental Health. I am always amazed at just how much there is to learn about supporting the growth and development of resilience in the kids that we service. More importantly, I have resources and information to bring back to my staff.

Sometimes we forget children of all ages are always evolving as are their needs. There is not a “one size fits all” approach for each child. Our job is to make sure we are equipped with the most resources possible to keep up with those changes and individualities.

To me, the saying that the children truly are our future is much more than a cliché. Being willing to invest in ourselves through trainings, webinars, or workshops is ultimately a huge investment in ourselves. It also impacts the people (or in my case, the children) we serve.  We learn new and innovative concepts to bring out the best in each child. We continue to provide a fun, safe, and professional atmosphere here at the Community Center.  The kids continue to learn, and we feel pride as we see the children accomplish the goals we set.

With all the programs that we offer here at the Community Center, I’ve had the pleasure of watching the kids who come here learn and grow. Over the years, I’ve seen kids go from Preschool to Extended Care to MP3, and I can honestly say it is truly an honor to be here for them every step of the way.

Jacquelyn Tyre-Perry is the Recreation Special for School Age Programs for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at J.Tyre-Perry@ManassasParkVA.gov.

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Let’s Get More Involved with Ongoing Suicide Prevention – By Jason Shriner

DSC_0887-2Manassas Park Parks And Recreation Marketing Manager Jason Shriner

Last fall, I joined the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia (SPAN) LGBT committee as a representative for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. I was invited by the Chair of the committee, who happens to work for the Arlington Child and Family Services Division, because of my involvement in the community. These experiences have shown me the importance for suicide prevention especially for the LGBT community.

To help set the tone for this blog post, I would like to share some statistics with you regarding suicide.

While it may seem unrelated to Parks and Recreation, I believe Parks and Recreation Departments everywhere contribute greatly to suicide prevention. People often have suicidal thoughts because of feelings of isolation or worthlessness. Recreational programs can actually help community members build connections and add value to your life and self-esteem. I have actually made great friends here at the Community Center because of the classes I have taken, such as Sign Language. The skills I continue to develop give me a greater sense of pride in myself. Of course, if somebody is in the throes of depression, it can be difficult for them to find the motivation to start a class, but Parks and Recreation is only one resource in the greater definition of suicide prevention.

One of the largest issues with suicide prevention is that people avoid talking about suicide and death. In general, death is a very uncomfortable topic for many, and sharing details about suicide is even harder for people to discuss. Mental illness has such a stigma associated with it that people feel too embarrassed to disclose their concerns about their own mental and emotional wellness to even their closest friends and family.

I would not be surprised if most people told me that they have had personal experience with suicide. Depression runs very deeply on both sides of my family. Several family members have attempted suicide and one of my uncles died because of suicide. To me, suicide is especially tragic because it is an emotionally painful way to die. It troubles me to see friends and relatives agonize about what they could have done to provide support and prevent suicide.

We as a community need to come together and have these conversations. On the surface, it may seem like a very difficult thing to do, but it does not have to be. All you need to do to start the conversation is to be open and honest, and establish that you are safe and judgment free person that is open to dialogue. What can be difficult is once you have created that safe environment is figuring out how to provide help should they need more than just a friend to lean on. That is where SPAN comes in. SPAN and local agencies can provide you and your friend with the support and resources you need.

You can learn about just some of the resources available to the residents of Manassas Park through SPAN this Sunday (3/19/2017) from 2pm-5pm at the Manassas Park Community Center. Join our committee for our first public event called Suffering in Silence, which we feel emphasizes the need for communication as a key component to suicide prevention. We will be watching Doing Time on Maple Drive and then an open discussion will follow. The open discussion about the movie will also lead to introductions of community leaders whose organizations are suicide prevention resources. Many of the resources will be geared toward the LGBT community, but many of the connections can provide that same support and compassion. Action in Community Through Service (ACTS); Parents, Families, and Friends of the LGBT Community (PFLAG PWC); the Gay Men’s Health Collaborative (GMHC); and INOVA Juniper are all scheduled to be in attendance.

I would also recommend attending the free showing of “A Will to Survive” hosted at Osbourn High School on 3/24/2017 at 7:00pm. Students in Loudoun County created this well received performance after their good friend died from suicide. Both ACTS and the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory recommend it. I plan to be there, and I hope that great conversations will follow. There will be many resources available for people to read and to share with others.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, there are resources immediately available. One such resource is the ACTS helpline at 703-368-4141 or 1-800-273-8255, which is available 24/7. I cannot emphasize enough what a wonderful organization ACTS is and how fortunate we are to have them available to us locally here in the Greater Prince William Region. They are informed and compassionate and will be able to help.

I hope you will join me in starting the dialogue about suicide and help add your voice to suicide prevention.

Jason Shriner is the Marketing Manager for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at J.Shriner@ManassasParkVA.gov.


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Sunscreen Saves Your Skin – by Sarah Barnett

DSC_1394.jpgManassas Park Parks and Recreation Operations Manager Sarah Barnett

The Department of Parks and Recreation is thrilled to announce that we were awarded sunscreen dispensers and sunscreen as part of the Practice Safe Skin campaign from the Melanoma Foundation of New England. We plan to place one dispenser at the entrance to Signal Bay Waterpark and one at the entrance of the Manassas Park Community Center so that residents of all ages can use sunscreen when playing at the Costello Park ballfields or while attending our summer camps.

Through the Practice Safe Skin Program, we are hoping to educate the community on how important it is to apply sunscreen when you will be outside for extended periods.  Not using sunscreen can lead to skin cancers including melanoma. Melanoma is not as common as other types of skin cancer, but it is the most serious. Simply put, you can get melanoma by spending too much time in the sun without sunscreen.

It does not happen immediately, but it can happen over time. In fact, dermatologists have told many adults who have melanoma that the moles forming now are the result of not using sunscreen products years ago.

Yes, it is true, for some people, too much time in the sun without sunscreen leads to sunburned skin.  Too much UV radiation from sun exposure causes normal skin cells to become abnormal. These abnormal cells quickly grow out of control and attack the tissues around them.

If you have fair skin, a family history of melanoma, or many abnormal, or atypical, moles you may be at a high risk for melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma usually looks like a flat mole with uneven edges and a shape that is not the same on both sides. It may be black, brown, or more than one color. Most melanomas show up as a new spot or skin growth. melanoma can also form in an existing mole or other mark on the skin. Most of the time, they are on the upper back in men and women and on the legs of women.

Melanoma can affect your skin and if not treated, it may spread to your organs and bones. Like any cancer, once it finds a small place to start, it wants to expand quickly. Treatment for melanoma works best when the cancer is diagnosed and found early just like with other cancers.

You may not have any symptoms in the early stages of melanoma. Alternatively, a melanoma may be sore that is continuously itchy or bleeds a lot. In addition, if you notice a mole that changes in the shape, size, or color becomes darker, or lumpier, it may be an early sign of melanoma.

We are hopeful that by providing sunscreen for all patrons at Signal Bay Waterpark and the Manassas Park Community Center/Costello Park this summer, we can help reduce the risk of developing melanoma. We also plan to educate all of our school age camp participants about the importance of applying sunscreen daily, even if it is cloudy.

Click here to see a brief video on what the sunscreen dispensers look like.

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 S.Barnett@ManassasParkVA.gov.

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The Difference Between Winning and Losing – By Mike Arrington


Manassas Park Community Center Athletics Specialist Mike ArringtonIt is that time of year again: playoffs! The Manassas Park Youth Basketball League will be starting its playoff tournament on Saturday, March 4.  It is so exciting to see our teams compete to win their respective age division championships! At the same time, it is also difficult time of the season because emotions run high. Unfortunately, with every winning team, there will be a losing team. Knowing the difference between winning and losing is an integral part of competition and sports in general.

As a former collegiate athlete, I have experienced the high and lows of sports.  Through my experiences, I have learned the difference between winning and losing. Here is some advice I would like to share as we head toward the playoffs and the rush of March Madness.

First, winning and losing is not in your control. Period. Instead, concentrate on being a competitor. A competitor does not focus on the scoreboard, stats, or fans. A competitor focuses on being the best athlete they can be, and their hunger for improvement is never satiated. Everyone is motivated during the big game, but true champions are competitors in practice and in play every day. Champions have the will to compete, to train, and to prepare long before any game. Any great competitor will tell you is that the difference between winning and losing is a matter of inches.

Winning a game gives athletes a good feeling about themselves and makes them proud. It shows them that they are good at something that builds their self-confidence. A confident child is more likely to develop a “can do” attitude. The experience of winning helps athletes find motivation to take the next steps to achieve even bigger goals. Competition is helpful because it inspires athletes to do more than is required.

This ability prepares athletes for a variety of situations in their future lives when it is up to them to make the decision whether they want to be part of the crowd or to be the one recognized for going a step further. Participating in competitions can help coaches and parents teach children about the importance of teamwork, commitment, cooperation, and respect for the game, their teammates, and their opponents.

Athletes experience losing at some point during their playing days. One of the most important aspects of competition we try to emphasize in the MYPBL is how to win or lose respectfully. Losing games is helpful for athletes because it teaches them how to cope with the experience of defeat. Losing a game is one way for athletes to learn from their mistakes and think about ways to improve. When athletes improve their skills and win the next time, they do not only get better at the sport or game, but they also learn something new. They develop the perseverance to work through difficult situations, which life has many, towards a positive outcome. Losing shows athletes that they need to work hard in order to have success because their hard work will be rewarded.

It is vital for athletes to know the difference between winning and losing. It is also important for athletes to accept defeat as graciously as they would accept winning.  I finish this blog with a quote I once received from a coach during my playing days. He said, “Perfection is the enemy. Failure is more important to us than victory. You will fail a lot more than you win, and you learn a lot more when you lose — you do not improve through victory. Victory is a plateau. You improve by capitalizing on your loss.”

Mike Arrington is the Recreation Specialist for Athletics and Program Director for the MPYBL for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at M.Arrington@ManassasParkVA.gov.

Posted in Athletics, Preschool, Programs, School Aged, Teens | Leave a comment

MPCC Preschool – by Sue Jurjevic

Ms. Angel, MPCC Lead Preschool Teacher, talks about Mexico in the playschool summer camp 'Where in the World'

Ms. Angel, MPCC Lead Preschool Teacher, talks about Mexico in the playschool summer camp ‘Where in the World’

Sue Jurjevic Senior Recreation Specialist Manassas Park Community CenterMy name is Sue Jurjevic, and I am the Senior Recreation Specialist, which is a fancy way of saying I work with the Manassas Park Community Center preschool. When I tell people I work with the preschool here at the Community Center, they are always curious. I think they are wondering if our preschool is similar to the preschool that they may have taken their own kids.

Preschool is a place where children between the ages of 3 to 5 learn the basics of academics and social skills before entering kindergarten. As one who sees preschoolers daily, and one who has been working with preschoolers for many years, I know preschool is actually much more than just basic academics and social development.

Our goal here in the MPCC Preschool program is to make sure that every child has a great school experience and is well prepared to begin kindergarten.

We are a licensed preschool program through the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). This means we must adhere to many policies and follow state procedures and guidelines. It is our responsibility to make sure that all files for children as well as staff are complete and up-to-date. We require each of our students to have a completed registration form, updated physical, and birth certificate on file with us. Our qualified staff must have completed comprehensive background checks prior to starting as well as periodic rechecks, CPR, first aid, and medication training.

Our guidelines also require staff to have completed a certain number of training hours. These training hours focus on child development, classroom management, social and emotional training, and curriculum.

Our preschool is also part of the Virginia Quality Program, which consist of a community of leading childcare centers, preschools, and family childcare homes across the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is a voluntary endeavor to show our staff, families, and community that we are committed to quality for young children. Virginia Quality sets standards for quality and provides a path for continuous quality improvement. We have a mentor who meets with us regularly to provide support and guidance as we set goals for ourselves as a program and as individuals for professional growth. This partnership opens doors of opportunity for training and education for our staff.

Now that you know a little more about the background of our preschool, let me tell you what we do here. We use all opportunities to offer a welcoming and inviting atmosphere of play, exploration, and discovery. We strive to provide a safe and developmentally appropriate environment for children to learn independence, school readiness, and the importance of family and community involvement.

We have a saying that we often use around the Community Center, “It starts in the Park”. Our preschool program is the beginning of so many wonderful years of growth and participation in our Community Center and our community at large.

Please call us and make an appointment with me, or one of our qualified preschool staff, and visit our preschool at the Manassas Park Community Center. We would love everyone to see the wonderful setting we create to instill lifelong learning for our students.

Sue Jurjevic is the Senior Recreation Specialist for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. Call her at 703-335-8872 or via her email at S.Jurjevic@ManassasParkVA.gov.

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Turning Your Resolutions into Results – By Kaitlyn Collier

walking on treadmills

Kaitlyn Collier, Special Events Coordinator Assistant at the Manassas Park Community Center with a young girl by a gingerbread houseAlthough it is mid-February, I am still thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Research says about 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but less than 10% stick to the resolutions. It seems to me that the majority of New Year’s resolutions are made because of health issues. Everyone I know says they want to get healthier, but we all seem to lose interest. I know it is not because we don’t care about our health – I just think we are all too busy!!

Researchers have found that most resolutions are broken within 2-3 months. So let’s break that trend. It is my hope that you and I can stick with our New Year’s resolutions to keep working out! But how?

I am sure you have heard the saying, “All it takes is 21 days for it to become a habit,” and for some people, that can certainly be true. More recent studies have found, however, that it is believed it actually takes 66 days to form a habit. So since it is mid-February, we are currently only sitting at day 47, so if you’re struggling with your resolutions, keep pushing through, it takes time.

Hopefully if you were having a hard time, you have more hope now after hearing that your new habit is still in the process of forming! There are more ways you can make your 2017 health resolutions a little easier to achieve. If your goal is to lose weight or tone your body, you can join a gym, take classes, and get to your goals.

If you aren’t sure you’d use a gym alone, get a gym buddy. This is such a simple, but wonderful idea because your buddy becomes your form of accountability because you have committed to going to the gym and working out with someone else.

Another form of accountability is to sign up with a personal trainer. Personal trainers are great tools towards succeeding in your fitness goals. Here at the Manassas Park Community Center, we have a great team of personal trainers who are ready and excited to help you achieve your fitness goals! It is their goal to help you meet your goal — whether it be to lose weight or gain muscle and tone!

If you tried the gym and just cannot motivate yourself to go run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, break out of your comfort zone a bit and try a group fitness class. Zumba is a great 60 minute cardio workout. I have been taking the Zumba classes at the MPCC, and I will tell you those classes work you, and it’s also a lot of fun. If you do not enjoy your workout, chances are you will not want to do it, so why not have fun while meeting your goal. The Manassas Park Community Center offers Zumba 5 days a week, sometimes twice a day, to help fit your schedule!

Don’t forget the reason you made your resolution in the first place, and use that reason as motivation to achieve your goal! Everyone at the Manassas Park Community Center is ready and excited to help you reach your goals whether you decide to sign up with a personal trainer or take a Zumba class. Take your resolution one day at a time and as Dory from Finding Nemo once said, “Just keep swimming.”

Kaitlyn Collier is the Special Events Assistant for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. You can reach her at 703-335-8872, or via email at K.Collier@ManassasParkVA.gov.

Posted in Adults, Fitness, Holiday, Programs | Leave a comment

February is Black History Month – by Tony Thomas

dsc_0181Tony Thomas, City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation Recreation Services Supervisor

According to History.com, Black History Month initially started as Black History Week back in 1926, by an African American historian and educator named Carter G. Woodson. In 1976, it was decided the celebratory week would be changed to a month-long celebration to coincide with the February birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Black History Month provides us with the opportunity to reflect on some of the important contributions that Black Americans have made to American history over the years. Many of us are familiar with historical figures such as Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr.

However, I am going to take a different approach and highlight some of the important health issues plaguing the Black Community. There are serious health issues that many folks in the community are facing, and it starts at an early age.

Here are a few alarming facts and statistics courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I feel strongly that we all need to be mindful of these statistics, and I’d like to point out a few facts that really stood out to me.

Heart Disease and Stroke

  • 1 in 3 deaths in the United States is due to cardiovascular disease while people of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities are affected. However, certain groups—including black people and older individuals, are at higher risk than others.
  • Nearly half of all Black American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.


  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among black people in the United States. Among men, black men are diagnosed and die from cancer at higher rates than men of other ethnicities. Among women, white women have the highest rates of getting cancer, but black women have the highest rates of dying from cancer.
  • Prostate cancer is more common in black men. It tends to start at younger ages and grow faster than in men of other ethnic groups.

Obesity, Nutrition, and Physical Activity

  • Blacks are nearly 1.5 times as likely to have obesity as compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
  • From 2011-2014, the prevalence of obesity among Blacks was 48% compared to 35% of non-Hispanic Whites.
  • Black Americans eat fewer vegetables than other ethnic groups but eat similar amounts of fruit as non-Hispanic Whites.

What You Can Do for Your Health

  • Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Choose foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Exercise regularly. Adults needs 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of exercise each week. You can spread your activity out during the week, and can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day, depending on what your schedule will allow.
  • Be Smoke-free and limit alcohol use as both can lead to long-term health problems.
Our newer kickboxing class has been growing in popularity and is a great way to get an hour of cardio every week!

Our newer kickboxing class has been growing in popularity and is a great way to get an hour of cardio every week!

I have been working at the Manassas Park Community Center for several years, and know that the entire staff here wants to help all individuals, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender accomplish their fitness goals. We have a variety of diverse programs at the Community Center to help you get into the best shape of your life.

We also feature several recreational education classes to help stimulate your mind. These classes include: nutrition, money management, college prep, and entrepreneurship. Physical and mental fitness is extremely important and should be taken seriously. Regardless of our background, we all want the same thing, which is to be happy and healthy. Our goal at Parks and Recreation is to offer you solutions to achieve your fitness goals. We are all here to help you maintain and set new goals once you have reached your initial goal.

If you are currently a regular member or patron, keep up the great work! If you are not yet a patron, then I encourage you to stop by for a tour, sign up for a class, and experience the wonderful variety of options that the Manassas Park Community Center can offer you and your family.

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.

Posted in Adults, Fitness, Food, Holiday, Memberships, MPCC Patrons | Leave a comment