Local youngsters, who want to learn more about basketball and meet a former University of Kentucky basketball player, will have the chance to do so for free this summer.
Whitley County High School will play host to one of Operation UNITE’s “Shoot Hoops Not Drugs” programs.
The free program is open to children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade and will be on June 20 from 4 – 7 p.m.
Former University of Kentucky point guard and four-time All-SEC Academic Team member Jarrod Polson – who was part of the 2011-12 National Championship squad – will conduct these three-hour camps.
“It is a great thing for the kids. They will love it. Whitley County – where we haven’t had it here for a long time – we should have a great crowd. 250 participants wouldn’t be a surprise to me. It is a great thing for Whitley County. We are glad to be able to do it,” Operation UNITE Deputy Director Tom Vicini told members of the Whitley County UNITE Coalition during its quarterly meeting Monday.
“Everything is free. We don’t charge a thing. We raise money throughout the year to be able to do this. We have one major sponsor, the Kentucky National Guard. Other than that, we depend on local sponsors to help us out.”
Each child will receive a free t-shirt, a free basketball and a free meal.
At the end of the program, there will be a door prize drawing for two free portable basketball goals.
During the “Shoot Hoops Not Drugs” program, Operation UNITE will have a short presentation in the high school cafeteria for parents and guardians regarding e-cigarettes and vamping.
Since 2006, Operation UNITE has conducted over 70 regional basketball camps with more than 9,500 youth participants.
The program is open to any child, and not just Whitley County residents or Whitley County students.
Also during Monday’s meeting, Dawn Lang a treatment/education program coordinator with Operation UNIITE, discussed efforts currently underway to legalize marijuana in various forms.
“There’s a lot of research that still needs to be done,” Lang said. “Big tobacco is big marijuana. They also own all the big e-cig companies.”
She noted there are three bills on the table now in Kentucky, some of which are “wacky.”
One bill would allow people in rural areas to grow up to six plants for personal use, Lang said.
She added that Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers is a big proponent of Operation UNITE, and is probably the only thing that has kept some of these bills from passing.
The Whitley County UNITE Coalition meets quarterly.
The coalition’s next scheduled meetings are set for April 22, July 22 and Oct. 28.