It was difficult to tell who was having more fun Tuesday afternoon with the new playground equipment at Kent’s Park Orchard Elementary School – the kids or Seattle Seahawks’ twin brothers Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin.
The brothers playfully interacted with children on new climbing walls, doing pull-ups, sitting in a tunnel competing in rock-paper-scissors and racing across the playground. They also signed plenty of autographs, sometimes right on a kid’s shirt.
“It’s just exciting to be here and to share this moment with the kids,” said second-year cornerback Shaquill Griffin.
The brothers joined UnitedHealthcare to help present $22,000 to school principal Patrick O’Connor for the new equipment. UnitedHealthcare gave the grant to the Griffin’s Dreambuilders program to fund the equipment.
”We have to give respects and thanks to all the donors and everybody that supported this cause,” Shaquill Griffin said. “It’s awesome to be a part of it and see the excitement of the kids. To give back to the kids and the community feels awesome.”
Claire Verity, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Washington, said the agency worked with the Kent School District to find a school in need of new playground equipment to encourage wellness and activity at an early age.
“We added the climbing walls,” Verity said. “It was something the school really wanted because it’s all inclusive, anyone with any ability can enjoy that equipment not just certain kids.”
Rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin could relate to the all inclusive. He had his left hand amputated at age 4 because of a congenital disorder that kept his hand from developing properly.
“The biggest part is a new playground that is adaptable to all children,” Shaquem Griffin said. “It’s for all students – no matter if you have one hand or two hands – you get a chance to have fun with all of your classmates and I think that’s very important.”
After a brief media interview, Shaquem Griffin climbed the new rock wall and then got inside of it followed by a bunch of kids. A bit later, he raced several kids across the playground.
Shaquill Griffin lifted a young boy to help him do pull-ups. The boy pulled himself up several times.
“I did zero at your age,” Shaquill Griffin told the boy.
Prior to going out to the playground, the brothers threw a few football passes and shared some advise with kids inside the gym.
“Be positive, be good in class and keep your grades up,” Shaquem Griffin said. “When it comes to the playground, that’s when you can let loose and be free. We all love the playground and recess.”