JACKSON – High-5s and chest bumps were exchanged liberally after each completed skill.

“You have to try and you have to have fun,” explained Jeff Sheppard, a former University of Kentucky basketball standout who conducted UNITE’s Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball camp June 14 at Breathitt County High School. “If you do drugs, you’re doing neither.”

Sheppard emphasized “walking the straight line” by staying together as a team. “Surround yourself with good friends,” he said.

The camp, the third of six regional programs planned for the summer, drew 77 youth participants from three counties (Breathitt, Perry and Pulaski).

Winners of two basketball goals given away during the camp were 5-year-old Zachary Campbell of Jackson and 8-year-old Anthony Wells of Clay Hole.

To view photos from camp click here.

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.

Sheppard used the camp to stress the importance of teamwork and making the right decisions.

“In basketball there are rules. You have to learn how to play by the rules, cheer for each other and encourage each other. The same is true in everything you do,” Sheppard said. “It’s easy to drift away by yourself. Find yourself a really good team.”

At the beginning of camp parents and guardians of the youth participants were presented a program on the importance of keeping close tabs on their prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic across the nation, and studies have shown that most teens first experiment with drugs obtained from their family or a friend’s family without their knowledge. During the first half of the year members of UNITE’s 30 volunteer community coalitions conducted an informational campaign called “Accidental Dealer” to raise awareness of this issue.

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).