If you're looking for a way to shake off the winter blues, you may have to go no farther than your own backyard.
The Central Blair Recreation and Park Commission recently released its 2009 Winter Activities Guide, which lists tons of upcoming programs to enjoy from now through April.
Many are the traditional offerings, like Swimming Lessons and Learn to (ice) Skate programs, Instructional Basketball, Tennis Camp and Team Volleyball.
Area youth can also enjoy classes in Cheerleading and Baton, Youth Yoga and even Half-Pint Skillastics (a program for preschoolers to learn movement skills in a non-competitive and educational environment.)
But don't let the recreational title fool you. Leafing through the pages of the program guide, one thing is crystal clear: The Commission is not just "Parks and Rec" anymore.
"Sports are still our bread and butter," said CBRC executive director Mike Hofer, "but the biggest thing I am trying to do is to become more community friendly by providing activities for people who may not be interested in just sports."
That has meant expanding the definition of "recreation" to include an array of activities that citizens of all ages can enjoy in their spare time.
The CBRC is now offering programs for kids like an Introduction to Juggling, Children's Self-Defense and Bully Awareness, Line Dancing, Magic, Horse Sense, Cartoon and 3-D Drawing and a Theatre Workshop.
Adults can enjoy Vegetable and Flower Gardening, Introduction to Computer Essentials, Robertson's Golden Fitness Class and more.
"Some of the programs we've offered in the past, and some are new," Hofer said. "We hope there is something to appeal to anyone in the community."
While some things, like the Easter Egg Hunt, are free, most of the programs cost between $20 and $50, a bargain in any economy.
"It's our job to find the best instructors at an affordable price," Hofer said. "We've had a good response to the new programs, with some registrations up to double-digits."
There is still time and space to sign up for many of the upcoming activities. More information can be found on the Commission's website: www.cbrcparks.org.
During these trying times, when so much of the news is about companies downsizing and offices closing, it's nice to hear about an organization that's working so hard to make the most of its funding, and actually growing to provide more opportunities. When family funds are limited, taking advantage of quality CBRC programs makes sense.
The Central Blair Rec Commission still oversees local parks and playgrounds and remains a place to call to rent batting cages, pavilions and gyms.
But in expanding its mission, the CBRC also allows us to improve our gardening skills, learn to dance or even juggle. A little recreation of any kind is good for the soul, and now we have even more kinds to enjoy.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.