FLAT LICK – Staying off drugs means surrounding yourself with a good team, participants at UNITE’s Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camp were told Thursday, June 9.

“Drugs are a distraction,” said Jeff Sheppard, a former University of Kentucky basketball standout who conducted the camp. “You will eventually be confronted with (the temptation to use drugs). It’s important to stay on a straight line. When you try to beat drugs by yourself you will loose.”

Held at Flat Lick Elementary, the three-hour camp drew 143 youth participants from five counties (Knox, Bell, Clay, Harlan and Whitley) and Harrogate, Tennessee. It was the second of six regional camps scheduled for this summer.

Winners of two basketball goals given away during the camp were 12-year-old Luke Kelley of Pineville and 12-year-old Kaleb Gray of Flat Lick.

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.

“The easiest thing in life to do is quit. You need to keep trying,” Sheppard said. “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.”

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).