SOMERSET – The first of six free regional basketball camps offered by Operation UNITE this summer will be held Tuesday, June 7, at Nancy Elementary School in Pulaski County.

Camp begins at 4 p.m. and lasts approximately three hours. Participants are asked to arrive 30 minutes early to complete registration.

Any school-age youth is welcome to participate in the program, which provides basketball skills instruction by former University of Kentucky basketball star Jeff Sheppard in conjunction with anti-drug and self-esteem messages.

All participants will receive a free event T-shirt, regulation basketball, food and water, and be entered into a drawing for two portable basketball goals given away at the conclusion of each camp.

For comfort and safety participants are asked not to wear open-toe shoes or sandals.

Presented by Phoenix Products, Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps are fun, interactive, and provide a safe, drug-free activity where children have an opportunity to interact with positive role models while learning fundamental basketball skills.

In addition, parents and guardians will have an opportunity to attend a UNITE Foundation education program on how to talk to their children about drugs. Information on the signs, symptoms and dangers posed by drugs will also be given.

As a senior at the University of Kentucky, Sheppard was named the NCAA’s Final Four Most Valuable Player in the Wildcats’ 1997-98 National Championship season. He would later go on to play one season with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and 3 years in Italy.

Helping make the 2011 Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps possible are:

Gold Sponsors – Codell Construction, Knox County UNITE Coalition, Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition, Senture, SouthEast Telephone and Walmart of Eastern Kentucky.

Silver Sponsors – Citizens Bank & Trust (Jackson), Citizens National Bank (Somerset), First National Bank (Jackson), Huffman & Huffman, PSC (Somerset), and Johnny Maco’s Electrical Contracting (Jackson).

Bronze Sponsors – Alton Blakley Family of Dealerships (Somerset), Community Trust Bank (Pikeville) and St. Joseph-Martin (Floyd County).

Other Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps will be conducted:

• Thursday, June 9 – Flat Lick Elementary School in Knox County.

• Tuesday, June 14 – Breathitt County High School in Breathitt County.

• Thursday, July 7 – Jenkins High School in Letcher County.

• Tuesday, July 12 – Meade Memorial Elementary School in Johnson County.

• Thursday, July 14 – Rockcastle County Middle School in Rockcastle County.