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MESQUITE (CBSDFW.COM) – The Mesquite Independent School District has a new initiative aimed at inspiring a love of reading, and two big-name NFL players are lending their star power to the cause.

JaCorey Shepherd and De’Vante Harris both played football at Horn High School.

The two professional athletes have since gone onto great things. Shepherd has played for the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers while Harris has been with the New Orleans Saints. But on Tuesday, they were shooting an advertisement for the school district’s ‘Read Play Talk’ program.

The initiative encourages parents to be more involved with the education of their children.

According to the Texas Education Agency, 54.9 percent of MISD students are considered at-risk.

School officials said that there is a huge need to get students reading on grade level by third grade.

“We need that foundation at home before we can build on top of that as educators,” said second-grade teacher Shira Lester.

Robbin Todoroff is a mom who’s made learning a nightly ten minute ritual with her 5th grader.

“She would really get interested in the story. It would make her very excited the next night to pick up where we left off to find out how the story was ending. It was good bonding time,” said Todoroff.

School leaders are hoping that these NFL players — former students themselves — will raise awareness of the value of education.

“When you’re fighting the culture of poverty, where school districts are behind and having to spend millions of dollars to catch students up,” explained Mesquite ISD athletic director Steve Bragg, “that’s money that could be spent other places.”

The two players are shooting the advertisement in the morning before meeting with kids at Florence Black Elementary School in the afternoon.