INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard is connecting with kids through their interest in technology.
"A lot of kids want to play video games, everybody is into Fortnite now and Minecraft and I think Microsoft is doing a good job of teaching them coding through that system,” Sheard explained. “And hopefully it continues teaching them to grow and you never know you might have the next coder here."
Through his foundation, Jabaal has partnered with Microsoft to use kids’ interest in video games to teach STEM programming.
"It's really cool because originally I just thought we are going to play Minecraft,” 13-year-old Braden Tamosaithis said. “No, we are actually coding it. That's going to be awesome."
When he came to the Circle City last year, Jabaal launched programs to provide local kids with experiences he didn't have when he was young growing up in Florida.
“A lot of kids are inspired by football and everybody wants to play football and go to the NFL or NBA,” Jabaal explained. “When I was growing up, I didn't have that backup plan and just to get them going now and thinking about it and show them you can follow your dreams there are other avenues out there you don't have to just play sports."
This week, Jabaal worked with Microsoft on a special program for kids with life-threatening illnesses through the A Kid Again program.
Each week throughout the season, he goes into the local Boys and Girls Club to mentor and inspire kids, weekly visits proving consistent progress.
"Even if they don't get to focus in on their career right now, they're maturing enough to show some leadership and some respect and just becoming great young men and women,” Jabaal said of the kids involved with the Boys and Girls Club.
And through the Microsoft program on this day, using connectivity to connect on a new level.
"I know these players, and now I get to be these players in the game,” Braden said, excitedly.
"It's big, just always giving back to the kids, that's our future,” Jabaal said.