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Hula hoops, jump ropes spark memories for Jabaal Sheard, Patrick Chung

PAWTUCKET, RI -- New England Patriots teammates Patrick Chung and Jabaal Sheard reflected on their youth Wednesday as they imparted words of wisdom to about 75 youngsters in Pawtucket.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t really have anyone come out and see us,” Chung said. “So it was good for the kids to be excited, they’re our fans and they make us who we are. It was good to come out here and teach them things to do in life and try to get them on the right track.”

Added Sheard, “It’s always been big to me. I looked up to football players as a kid, so the fact I’m a football player now and am able to do that, I always want to be a part of it.”

The two, along with defensive tackle Markus Kuhn, represented the Patriots on Wednesday as the team awarded Pawtucket a $7,500 grant as part of the NFL Play for 60 “After School Kickoff” program.

One city official said Pawtucket plans to use the funds to install a much-needed synthetic grass field.

On Wednesday afternoon at Slater Park, the three players shared brief words with youngsters before the official check presentation. Chung warned about how easy it is to be distracted with video games, Sheard focused on the importance of nutrition, while Kuhn touched on exercise.

Then they each led a station with the kids -- Sheard the hula hoop, Kuhn an agility drill and Chung the jump rope.

That led to some laughs when both Chung and Sheard struggled.

“Obviously, my jump-roping skills aren’t up to par, so I have to start practicing,” Chung said.

“Hula hoop, it’s something I haven’t got to practice a lot. I’m getting better with the kids. They’re showing me good technique,” Sheard said with a chuckle.