LESLIE COUNTY, Ky (WYMT)- Operation Unite hosted its annual "Shoot Hoops Not Drugs" basketball camp.
"We will teach them some basketball skills but most of all we will teach them what it takes to be successful, happy, and healthy," said Operation Unite's Deputy Director, Tom Vicini.
"I love basketball but I believe it has so many parallels with life. Work ethic, character development. It's fun to teach kids about basketball but you realize oh wait, this really has to do with real life," said former UK player Jarrod Polson. "It's the shoot hoops not drugs prevention program but really more importantly trying to tell the kids they have a purpose in life and drugs and alcohol can take away that purpose."
Drugs and overdose are something that the state of Kentucky is far too familiar with.
"It's not a problem. It's an epidemic. We lost 1404 people in this state last year alone from drug overdose," said Vicini
While some campers were as young as three and four, Polson and Operation Unite say it's never to early to educate the youth about the dangers of drugs.
"The average age for first time use of drugs in Southeastern Kentucky is 11 years old. So we want to get to these kids early to teach them the dangers of doing drugs. We are trying to get them to understand, once you make the decision to go down that road, you can't always come back. So the best thing to do is to never start," said Vicini.
Three camps remain on the schedule. The camp visits East Carter Thursday, Bell County Tuesday, June 26th and Wolfe County Thursday.