'Shoot Basketball Not People' campaign underway in Akron - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

'Shoot Basketball Not People' campaign underway in Akron

Shoot Basketball Not People campaign in Akron. (Source: WOIO) Shoot Basketball Not People campaign in Akron. (Source: WOIO)
Kids learn drills and life lessons. (Source: WOIO) Kids learn drills and life lessons. (Source: WOIO)
The event features a variety of instructional sessions and motivational speakers. (Source: WOIO) The event features a variety of instructional sessions and motivational speakers. (Source: WOIO)
AKRON, OH (WOIO) - The rate of senseless crime in the city of Akron and various communities across the country is steadily increasing at an alarming rate. Not only is it affecting the families of victims, but consequently, our communities and the children who live there. With cuts in educational programming and other extracurricular activities, our children have less access to opportunities that promote sense of community, active engagement and social responsibility.

The Shoot Basketball Not People campaign in collaboration with DJ Mr. King, Essentials Basketball Academy, MKU Athletics and the Young Black Professionals Coalition hosted its third annual Free Basketball Clinic Monday at Buchtel High School.

The goal of the clinic was to provide more than 200 school age youth with an opportunity to explore basketball in a positive manner, while educating them on the dangers of violence in their community. In addition to athletics, students had the opportunity to interact with peers and community mentors in a positive environment. The event also featured a variety of instructional sessions and motivational speakers, including former athletes and community leaders from Akron.

"We want to make sure that we instill leadership number one," said Gary Mills.

Mills started this program in Philadelphia. He's in New York and Akron now, with plans for California. It's his belief that there is too much of a "follower" mentality in the inner city.

"We give them an alternative so that they'll be able to take what we teach them, whether it's a life skill or a basketball skill, and take that into the community and be leaders themselves," explained Mills.

Mills has partnered with Charlie McKee, of the Essentials Basketball Academy. Both men believe they can teach young people how to handle life problems by experiencing success and adversity on the hard wood.

"The decisions you make on the basketball court, how you handle your mistakes, it's the same way when you make a mistake in life. You have to learn how to handle it," said McKee.

Call it the fundamentals of basketball to the foundation of a successful, nonviolent life.

"That's what it is all about, being a good person first. In basketball, if you lose, you're going to have to learn how to lose the right way and learn from it," said McKee.

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