SANDY HOOK – Many of the fundamental lessons learned in basketball can be related to everyday life, participants in the second Operation UNITE Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball camp of 2013 were told Tuesday, June 4.

DSC_0105-goal winners“Learn to follow the rules early and it will be easier as you get older,” Jeff Sheppard, former University of Kentucky all-star, told the 106 youth participants from three Kentucky counties (Elliott, Boyd and Carter). “This applies in basketball and in life.”

“It’s important to stay on the straight line. Drugs are trying to pull you off,” Sheppard continued. “At the end of the day it is your choice. There’s no reason for you to try drugs. It doesn’t end well.”

Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps combine basketball skills instruction in conjunction with anti-drug and self-esteem messages.

“You have to listen to directions. You have to practice. You have to follow the rules,” Sheppard said. “These concepts apply to everything you do.”

All participants received a free event T-shirt, regulation basketball and are entered into a drawing for two portable basketball goals given away at the conclusion of each camp. Goal winners in Elliott County were 8-year-old Braden Wheeler of Brandy Branch and 9-year-old Karlee Coleman of Bruin.

Presented by Codell Construction Management and Senture, 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.

Parents and guardians attended a brief UNITE Foundation education program on synthetic drugs and how to talk to their children about drugs.

During this program, state Representative Rocky Adkins updated the adults on efforts in Frankfort to control prescription drug and over-the-counter drug abuse. He noted that this was UNITE’s first big event in Elliott County, which recently became part of the Fifth Congressional District.

“Programs like UNITE are so valuable. Camps like this make all of us more aware,” said Adkins. “Eastern Kentucky is not alone in this problem. We’re all in this together.”

“Athletics kept me focused on things other than drugs. This is just a great opportunity for Elliott County,” noted Adkins, who played college basketball at Morehead State University. “Stay involved and stay focused. Take advantage of opportunities and don’t make bad decisions.”

This is the eighth year for the camps. Through Tuesday, 5,932 youth have participated in 46 regional Shoot Hoops camps.

Helping make the 2013 Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps possible are: Enough (Lifeline of Carter County), Flowers Bakery of London, Inc., Laurel Grocery Company, Walmart of Louisa, Pineville Rotary Club, Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy, Chad’s Hope Teen Challenge Center, First National Bank of Grayson, WestCare Kentucky, Wilhoit Law Office, Breathitt County Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) and Grayson Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation.