‘Hoops on Mission’ camp hopes to inspire Fort Myers youth

FORT MYERS, Fla.- They dribble, sprint, jump and dive.

They huddled up, and inspirational words from Coach Dwayne “Action” Jackson kick-started their training Saturday afternoon at Schandler Hall Park in Fort Myers.

“It’s about basketball, but more importantly it’s about empowering and educating youth. By using mentoring and athletics to do that,” said 31-year-old Jackson, a Fort Myers native who says his love for basketball inspired him to create his own outreach program.

Hoops on Mission launched more than seven years ago, but it’s now Jackson’s full-time job.

He attended and played basketball for Charleston Southern University, and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He says his passion for the game inspired him to use it for something more.

” I want them to know that no matter what living circumstances that you’ve been through, you can make it out of a tough environment, no matter where you come from.”

Jackson says his experience growing up in the Dunbar community, and living in a single-parent home didn’t stop him from following through with his dreams.

“You just got to believe in yourself, you can’t give up, and you just got to continue to dream.”

Danielle Sheppard and her year 14-year-old son Riley, joined Jackson’s program two years ago, and says his words of encouragement are moving, and draw these kids closer to him, their faith and away from the streets.

“It’s a positive environment, the kids are just here to play sports. Nobody’s trash talking each other. They just come out here an play basketball.”

She tells WINK News, Jackson’s a great role model, and her son makes it a point to attend every camp.

“He’s just kind of like a piped piper with the kids and you can tell they just love him.”

Jackson says he feels the camp is his calling, and hopes the skill, responsibility and dedication that comes with playing basketball, will become ideas these kids use in their every day lives.

“This is where you have to be right now,” said Jackson. “These kids need you, and this community right now, when the Dunbar area is just so dark right now. These kids need somebody to look up to, and I’m here. I’m here to do that.”

For more information on Hoops on Mission, events and locations, visit their website at hoopsonmission.org.