Good basketball brings good choices to a Long Beach school

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - It's amazing what a basketball and some humor can do for children. That's the theme behind the Future Champions of America program. The program came to Harper McCaughan Elementary School in Long Beach Tuesday. Despite the fun atmosphere, the lessons the kids learned were actually much more serious.

"This basketball has been a tremendous key to unlock the door and be able to communicate with young people," said Jason Gibbons, who's also known as the White Shadow. "We get a great reaction from the kids. We see some tremendous decisions made at these assemblies."

What are those decisions?

"Say no to drugs, drinking and driving, bullying, cyber bullying, is especially important with the high school age," said Freddie Reed, CEO of Future Champions of America. "It's just a character based message that's age appropriate for young people."

Judging from the looks on the kids' faces, the show was entertaining, it was engaging, it was a lot of fun. But the serious message handed out also struck home with the children. One of them is Xavian Chamberlain.

"I learned about bullying," Chamberlain said. "You shouldn't bully and it was a nice chance to see a professional at his own sport and learn about being an NBA basketball star."

Another student, Faith Windham, said, "It was fun because a professional basketball player came and I got to help him and he talked about some bullying and not being a bully and staying on the right track."

The message played out on the court is needed now more than ever, according to Principal Russ Badeaux.

"It's a different world, a different time than when we grew up," Badeaux said. "So anytime we can have someone come in and deliver a positive message, that's extremely important for our students."

The Future Champions program is visiting several schools on the coast this week.  The final rally will be held Friday beginning at 7pm at the West Harrison High School Gym.

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