LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
For three evenings every summer, children and young adults have the chance to enjoy warm temperatures while they bait up, cast a line, and reel in fish.
As one of the flagship programs of Operation UNITE, “Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs,” kids and teenagers aged 5 to 18 have the opportunity to learn one of Laurel County's favorite pastimes — fishing.
“This program is designed so that when kids are sitting around in the summer time, not sure what to do, they'll hopefully think 'Oh yeah, I remember that program I went to where I learned how to fish,'” said Christie Shrader, board coordinator for Laurel County's Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP). “It's a pastime that kids can do without getting into trouble. It's a deterrent.”
The program held its first fishing session Tuesday evening from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Heritage Hills Pond and Banquet Hall. Approximately two-dozen participants made an appearance to learn how to hook, line and sinker.
Basic fishing tips covered at each event include an overview of equipment — what's a lure, what's a bobber, what's a hook — as well as proper fishing technique. If your child has ever wandered how to seek out bass over brim, Operation UNITE's program is a sure fit. Attendees also have their names recorded based on how much they catch as well as the length of each haul.
“It teaches teamwork, patience, and good meet and greet skills,” Shrader said. “People from different churches and different school systems come out and meet eachother. It's a good, safe environment for them to have some summer fun.”
Pizza and water is also typically served at some point in the evening's festivities, normally followed by a drug prevention message. Several community partners help make the cost-free program possible, including Sunrise Children Services, the Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, Chad's Hope and the UNITE coalition.