Camp at Dunbar Community Center delivers message of hope through basketball and education

J'marious Lindsay, 10, center, during a basketball clinic with a message at Dunbar Community Center on Wednesday.
J'marious Lindsay, 10, center, during a basketball clinic with a message at Dunbar Community Center on Wednesday. Herald-Leader

The sound of rubber soles screeching across hardwood floors bounced off the green and white walls of Dunbar Community Center and nearly smothered the music coming from two barrel-size speakers.

The scene was part of a basketball camp Wednesday, held in an effort to unite basketball and education while working toward a positive atmosphere in the wake of recent violence in Lexington.

Jason L. "Coach Mo" Moseley, founder and CEO of NXTLVL Basketball Training Academy, who led and organized the free basketball clinic with others' help, said the clinic was a way to show kids there was more to life than just "killing and selling drugs," that they can "go to school and be somebody" through the teachings of basketball.

It's an extension of the academy's mission: "to impact the lives of student-athletes, with an emphasis on those in disadvantaged communities, by providing educational programs that instill qualities of character, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being."

The camp hosted about 50 boys and girls ages 6 to 16 at the center at 545 North Upper Street. Coaches, volunteers and sponsors supervised stations that focused on shooting, dribbling, defense and footwork. Participants received backpacks stuffed with notebooks, pencils and pens, and were given slices of pizza and T-shirts on their way out of the gym.

Dominique Burgess found out about the camp when she took her 5-year-old son to the center's gym to shoot around.

"I like that they're doing something for the community and the boys," she said. "There's so much negativity going on, so it's good."

Moseley, a Louisville native, credits basketball for helping him to get an education, and he said he hoped the camp would let kids know they can be model citizens.

"Basketball isn't just a game," he said while waving a few teenagers into the center's gym doors. "Work hard, stay involved, put God first and stay in school, and anything is possible."

The camp was held on a day when there were two reported shootings; in one, a woman was shot in the face. From June 11 to July 11, there were six homicides in Lexington — an unusual number in that amount of time for the city, which averaged 16 homicides a year during the past four years, police said. For 2014, there have been 12 homicides; five remain unsolved.

For Fredricka Buchanan, the camp was an unexpected relief for her and her three boys. Buchanan grew up near the center, but she said she's afraid to let her children go outside after the recent rash of violence. She said she found out about the camp while visiting her mother, who still lives nearby.

"They need to do this more often for the kids," she said, "because it keeps them out of the street and gives them something to do. You don't have to worry about your children because they're at a community center."

As for the school supplies, Buchanan smiled and said, "The more the merrier."

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