Anyone who says there is not much to do in Amherst County may find a useful resource in the county’s recreation and parks department.

The department offers a wide range of monthly social gatherings, seasonal events and weekly activities such as aerobics, Zumba, yoga, pickleball and photography, among others.

Sara Lu Christian, director of recreation and parks, said the department’s mission is to advance parks and recreational and cultural development efforts for the purpose of enhancing quality of life for residents of all ages. The department strives to offer all citizens, from small children to seniors, an array of opportunities while urging people to stay active and involved in their community, she said.

Bingo held on Friday mornings at the Coolwell Community Center is a popular event for seniors with attendance growing to nearly 40 per gathering, Christian said. The activity also is held Wednesdays at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Amherst.

Aerobics classes, several types of dancing, arts and crafts and other programs are held regularly at the Coolwell center and youth soccer and basketball leagues reach children ages 4 to 18.

The sports reach 200 to 300 students a year, according to Christian. Senior programming also is gaining in popularity, she said, with Second Stage Amherst hosting a senior center gathering Tuesdays and Thursdays and Northminster Presbyterian Church in Madison Heights hosting one Mondays and Wednesdays with overall attendance average 15 to 18 people, she said.

Those gatherings feature games, lunch, special speakers and trips to areas such as Smith Mountain Lake and surrounding localities. “Shopping trips are very popular,” Christian added.

Social gatherings for seniors also are well attended and bring joy among residents reuniting with people they haven’t seen in a while, she said. The events grew to a point a larger facility was needed and now are held at the Madison Heights Community Center on Woodys Lake Road in Madison Heights, Christian said.

Discount theme park tickets also have been offered for the past 30 years and savings to buyers average more than $28,000 a year, she said.

For more information on the recreation and parks events and activities, visit and click Government, Recreation & Parks or call (434) 946-9371.

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

Contact Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551 or

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