Tag Archives: chilldren at risk

Success and Virtual Services – Stories from our Staff and Clients

Adult Services/LEAD
With the current Coronavirus pandemic, causing shutdowns of businesses, limited access to resources, and just overall stress for every single person in the United States, the Easter Seals Greater Houston L.E.A.D. program is fighting back the stress with creativity in technology! By utilizing webcam access, we have still been able to meet with our adult program daily and covered many new ways to communicate. First step was showing all the tips and tricks with Facebook and how to create video conversations with their friends; allowing our clients to still stay as close as ever even during this time of social distancing. As we move forward, our next step has been creating a new activity calendar FULL of fun creative ways to stay busy, from virtual tours online to chair yoga YouTube videos. We have definitely been challenged by this pandemic, but it is not stopping us whatsoever. Having to think outside of the box has been the L.E.A.D.’s group specialty, and with everyone in this social crew working together, we are still making it the best part of our week. By using these amazing resources of technology, we are still able to function together as a team and continue to socialize just like before, just this time with a little distance.  Check out what we’ve produce here on our BridgingApps YouTube Channel!  From Rebecca, Adult Services LEAD Program

Camp, School, Therapy and More!
I was on the phone with a Buckaroo mom about the COVID-19 emergency funding; she was super appreciative. We started talking about her son, Bryson, who has come to Buckaroo– but it has always been a struggle for him to do a whole day of camp. Bryson has non-verbal autism and he does what HE wants to do (i.e. not a fan of buckaroo group activities, or listening), so he mostly came to Buckaroo for a couple hours each day to watch camp from the side. Mom said that for the first week of quarantine, Bryson stood at the door with his backpack every morning for 45 minutes because he wanted to go to school so badly. Nevertheless, she said that homeschooling has actually been amazing for them! He has been getting speech therapy over the phone, with mom consistently implementing the therapy because they are together all day. She said he has learned a few ASL signs and he is SO excited that he is able to communicate! It was a huge breakthrough for both of them; he realized that instead of just DOING what he wants, he gets what he wants easily if he does a sign for it! It warmed my heart that she would share that with me, and I am so glad that there is some positives coming out of quarantine, and we can’t wait to see him at Camp Buckaroo!  From Kenzie Richard, Camps, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Creativity and Patience – Children’s Therapy Program
“We wanted to have a family meal where everyone was sharing a nice homemade meal. Sounds pretty easy, but it wasn’t. We sought out a food therapy program to help with Edgar’s limited diet, his overeating tendencies, and his textural sensibilities. When Easter Seals started offering food therapy, we quickly signed Edgar up for it because there would be no force feeding involved, a big plus for my sweet sensitive child!

I have noticed that after starting the food therapy program with Alysia, Edgar has gone from eating a handful of foods to at least trying out different foods I never thought would be possible. I never expected results in such a short amount of time. Lettuce, strawberries, and even hamburger meat? Those foods seemed like a long shot…a goal for the long run. Yet here we are, months into the food therapy program and my child is opening up! Suddenly, sharing the same nice homemade meal with the family doesn’t seem as far-fetched as I had imagined last year!

I can honestly say that the food therapy in combination with other therapies including his occupational therapy with Alysia, Speech with Miaya, Ingrid with Music, his kindergarten teacher, his school assigned case worker, and even his school principal have all helped propel my son forward. Alysia, I can’t thank you enough! Your creativity and your patience with Edgar has shown in many areas and now with Food therapy, you have given us a gift our family will always cherish. Food is family and love! ” – -Doris, Parent, Client, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Children’s Therapy Program

 

 

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An Update from our CEO

We are Here (Virtually) For You

Therapist and her baby with headphones on

Learning Tele-Health!

Easter Seals of Greater Houston is here for you during this difficult time and because you are among our most valuable supporters, we want to assure you that we are here to help. With the Coronavirus (CoVid19) situation changing every day, our concerns are amplified with fears of how our community will be impacted. In all of our decades of serving military families, people with disabilities and vulnerable members of our community-we have become experts in what it takes to beat the odds. Over a month ago, we began adapting our services to keep our staff and clients safe while continuing to provide as many services as possible through tele-health and virtual meet-ups. Click here to see how we continue to support our clients and their families. We have compiled as many resources as possible on Covid19 and are keeping it as up to date as possible. Use BridgingApps.org, our award winning tech technology program, for an amazing amount of on-line resources and ways to stay connected and follow them on Facebook to see new ideas, and resources daily.

Like all families, businesses and charities, Easter Seals Greater Houston has already been hit really hard by the pandemic, by the government mandated benefits and even with huge aid being put in place by Congress, our agency is not eligible for many of the government supports. We expect even more health and financial damage before this is over. With that said, we are steadfast in our commitment to our clients, who need us now more than ever and we are committed to doing whatever we can to protect our employees, serve our clients and come out of this stronger than ever.   Our mission statement is, “Help. Hope. Answers.” The amazing, incomparable and unconquerable Easter Seals family will fulfill that mission of providing help, hope and answers to some of our most vulnerable neighbors during this difficult time and we are grateful to you for standing by us so that we have the resources to serve them.

Speaking of virtually.. We have also moved our Walk With Me Houston event scheduled for April 25th to #WWMVirtually as well. Please consider supporting us through the event. It will be a great way for you, your family, friends, co-workers and other social groups to interact, support the community, “do good” – great home school lesson, stay active safely and more! Follow our Facebook page for our Walk With Me Virtual Sign Up Happy Hour. Last but not least, we so appreciate our current sponsors and their continued effort and support!

If you don’t have the time to commit to walking virtually (and believe me we all understand) then please consider making a gift today to support Easter Seals Greater Houston and our programs, services, clients and their families. We depend on your stewardship and support.

Be well,

Elise Hough, CEO, Easter Seals of Greater Houston

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The Important of Early Childhood Intervention #ECIWORKS

Rose was adopted from China in November of 2018, at the age of 33 months.  She has Down syndrome, and spent the first 33 months of her life laying in a crib, with very little human interaction.  As a consequence, she is severely delayed in her overall development, and has very, very low muscle tone.  Because of her age, Rose was only able to receive services through Early Childhood  Intervention (ECI) for two months.  Lacy Alvarado, our service coordinator from Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program, made sure that Rose had the best therapeutic intervention she could possibly get during those two month through the Brazos Valley team (PT, OT, Case Management, Nutritional services, Speech and more).  In addition to working with Rose every week on a wide range of developmental goals, the ESGH BV Team provided us with invaluable advice, and directed us to all the best service providers to meet Rose’s needs.  With their help, Rose has made amazing progress, meeting many of her goals each and every week.  Before starting with ECI, Rose had very limited usage of her left side, she couldn’t sit without bracing herself on her legs, and was completely unable to feed herself.  In just two short months, Rose is now using her left hand and arm to complete all kinds of tasks, she can sit up straight without using her arms to brace herself, she is able to bring food to her mouth for self-feeding, she is beginning to use her arms and legs to “army crawl”, and she is learning how to follow simple directions.

 

With the help of Jana Aguilar, her physical therapist through Easter Seals Houston’s ECI Program, Rose has discovered that she has legs, and is beginning to bear weight on them, moving one step closer to eventually crawling and walking.  We are so grateful for the Brazos Valley Team’s help through the Easter SealsECI Program, as they have set Rose up for great success as she continues to grow and develop.  And having these services provided in our home has been extremely important for Rose, allowing her to work with Lacy and Jana in a familiar place.  Coming from years of neglect in a foreign institution has made Rose very fearful of unfamiliar surroundings, and very easily overstimulated by new people and places.  So having Lacy and Jana come to our home was vital to her success.  We will be forever grateful to Easter Seals Greater Houston / ECI for beginning Rose’s journey of healing and development in such an amazing way, and we will the team so very much.

Rose’s Mom

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What the Snap?

Ethan, one of our Easter Seals Houston 2018 Summer Camp Interns, has been Denium’s counselor for the past two years. Before that, they had been in the same cabin. Over the three years, they built an amazing bond that helped both of them grow in a way that will forever be remembered. Sadly, camp does not last forever. At Camp Smiles, campers graduate when they are 14 years old. The graduation ceremony is always a very emotional time, as counselors who have been with their campers for years, give a speech to say farewell to some of the most impactful people in their lives. There is rarely a dry eye in the audience. Here is the speech Ethan gave to Denium as he was graduating:

You have been a part of my life I will never forget. From the countless catch phrases such as “ooooooh you got a girlfrieeeend” to nicknaming Pablo as Pappadeux, your humor is a gift that will be remembered by all.

This is our second year together. Imagining a camp experience without you is just strange to me. While your presence overall is unforgettable, there are some specific instances that are especially amazing. Two years ago, we had a very emotional day together. We were outside of the art barn, and I decided to sneak up on you and pop a wheelie as a joke. Little did I know, you were already in an irritable mood because of something that had just happened. As soon as I did that, you reached back and swatted at me. My popping a wheelie with you was the tip of your iceberg. You were very upset. We got back to the cabin and the other counselors and I insist that you apologize. After a while, our friend, Lee, took you to the bathroom so y’all could have a talk about it and calm down. What happened next is something that will never fail to make my heart melt. I remember you coming in, looking very sad. You came up to me and said something very softly, too softly to hear. I ask what you said. You took a moment to collect yourself. Then, you pulled me in as tight as you could and profusely apologized to me and told me how sad you were. Never in my life have I experienced such raw sincerity. While you were crying and apologizing, I began to cry as well as I realized how sincere and caring of a person you truly are.

After a couple of years with you, I’ve noticed some changes in your personality. For one, during your first year, you were completely repulsed by the idea of interacting with the icky icky girls. Now this year, you can’t stay away from them. You went from poking fun at Lee for having a girlfriend by saying “oooooh, you got a girlfriend” every time Sophie walked by. Now, you proudly announce to your whole cabin that you indeed do “have a girlfriend”.

On a more serious note, the change that I have been most proud to witness is how much more open you’ve been with your caring personality. Spending time with you has given me the unique opportunity to experience not only the hilariously wild side of you that I call “what the snap Denium” but also the sweet and tender side of you. The side of you that holds Jacoby with care. The side that is well beyond content while tickling and smiling at Niko. It has been very impactful on me and has made me so happy. I’m so proud that I got to see you interact with the little ones so well.  The way you interact with the little ones has made everyone who has been around you smile. The way you interact with Niko and Jacoby shows a new side of you that makes me so so proud. You are truly beyond your years with the way you patiently interact with these kids.

Camp has been a huge part of my life. I tell everyone I meet that there is nothing more I look forward to than this particular week. Every time I envision future camp experiences, I still picture you being a part of them. You’re an important part of this community we have and will be missed dearly.

I know that as you move on in life, you will continue to make others happy. Whether it be through your humor, or your humongous caring heart, you will make the lives of so many people much brighter. I hope that we keep in touch so that when I have kids one day, you can make them smile.

Ethan, Summer Camp Intern, Easter Seals Greater Houston

 

 

 

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Making The First Five Count Through Early Intervention Services

Ella:

Ella has been enrolled in the Easter Seals Greater Houston ECI/Infant Program for about 6 months. Per one of the therapists on her Infant Program team –  visits started with tantrums, then evolved into stoic silence. Mom swore she said about 10-15 words, but the team never heard them the first month or so. Now, this lovely chatter box has a vocabulary that is growing every day. Ella is combining words to make 2-4 word sentences on her own, and parrots everything she hears. She is able to sit and attend to learning and play activities for 30+ minutes without getting distracted, and has some of the most creative pretend play we have seen.

 Mica:

We have been utilizing the services of the ECI/Infant Program at Easter Seals of Greater Houston over the past year for our son Mica, who was diagnosed at birth with Trisomy 21.   Mica’s progress has been wonderful so far, thanks to the team of dedicated therapists at Easter Seals.  Mica’s physical therapist Charisse as well as his nutritionist Thein have been instrumental in his growth and development.  His occupational therapist Christy as well as speech his therapist Bridget are working on improving his skills. My wife and I are very pleased with the team’s dedicated and professional approach in dealing with Mica.  For anyone with a child with a disability in the Houston area, we highly recommend the ECI/Infant Program Easter Seals as they do a wonderful job.

 The Dawkins Family:

“Thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program and wonderful staff our son, Cavani, went from no communication at all, to using words and sign language to express his needs to us. Easter Seal’s knowledgeable therapists helped our child, and our family, transition from in home therapy to a public school that meet our child’s needs. We truly can not say enough good things about Easter Seals and their ECI/Infant Therapy Program.”
– The Dawkins Family

WHAT IS ECI – EARLY CHILDHOOD INTERVENTION AND WHY IS IT NECESSARY?

WHAT IS MAKE THE FIRST FIVE COUNT AND HOW CAN IT HELP YOUR CHILD?

WHAT IS THE ASQ (AGES AND STAGES QUESTIONNAIRE) AND HOW CAN IT HELP?

Want more info? Info@eastersealshouston.org

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The SMART Road To Assistive Tech for ALL

In 2010, I was working at an educational non-profit when I helped to start a support group of parents and therapists where we shared information on how smartphones and touch tablets could help children with disabilities improve developmental skills. I was interested in how technology could help my youngest son Vincent, who at the age of 6 had the fine motor skills of an 18 month old. I knew that he would never write with a pen and paper, but I also knew that technology could play a big role in his early education and throughout his life.

Vincent had tried joysticks and other technology prior to the tablet to write and communicate, but he needed hand over hand assistance to operate them. However, with the iPad he was able to navigate independently. What a boost to his confidence and an ease to his frustration!

Other parents and therapists had similar thoughts but, because this mobile technology was so new, we spent hours exploring possibilities of which apps were the most helpful for our kids. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps available, so we set out to find a way to make searching easier for parents and professionals. That support group and quest for solutions turned into BridgingApps, a website and program of Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Becoming part of Easter Seals Greater Houston has been a blessing in the most profound way for this program and for our family. With the help of Easter Seals’ leadership and vision to help the program grow as quickly as possible, we have been able to make great strides in its’ development and reach. In 2014, BridgingApps won the Verizon Powerful Answers Award for Education that came with a $700,000 prize.  Our website is filled with resources for people of all ages and abilities – parents, caregivers, therapists, doctors and people with disabilities – looking for the right apps to fit their needs.

We now have three assistive technology labs (Thanks to The George Foundation and ATT&T) in the Houston area and satellite support groups in Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and Fort Worth, Texas.  In 2016, we gave more than 55 presentations and trainings in Houston and around the country. Our website enjoys 9,000 registered users from 187 countries, 7,000 monthly visitors, a podcast segment, an online course, a regular column in a digital magazine, and 3,500 apps in our database. We are excited to explore new ways in which mobile technology can assist young adults with special health care needs, older adults, and seniors through collaborative projects with Texas Children’s Hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann, Amerigroup/Anthem, UnitedHealthcare, and others.

As a veteran of the US Army, I am thrilled and honored this year to be working on a project that provides services and mental health supports to veterans and their families by using technology. Through a generous grant from TV+FA, we are able to provide technology training in different formats to veterans and their family members.  This spring we have already provided 10 Veterans Access Cafes in locations around Houston to demonstrate how smartphones can be used as a mental health support with apps like Calm, Swirlicity, and Stay Quit Coach. We continue to add content each week to www.bridgingapps.org/veteransresource  to share information on apps and other technologies that benefit veterans and their families.

Cristen Reat, Easter Seals Greater Houston, BridgingApps Founder

 

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Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month

Celebrate May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. Concerned? Wondering if your baby is meeting her milestones?

Our Children’s Therapy Program is here to help.  You can also check out our Ages & Stages Questionnaire on a regular basis!

 

 

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May 11, 2017 · 8:52 am

Little Steps Big Success with Easter Seals Houston Early Childhood Intervention Program

chelsea linn pic 2Written by a client’s adoptive mother.

‘It was Thanksgiving eve 2014 that I received a call from my husband wanting to know if I was still interested in adopting a baby, my heart sank. My husband and I only had one daughter and she was now 19.  We had always said one day we would try to adopt but had not pursued it, so I was very much surprised by the phone call.

My husband went on to explain that a very distant relative of his had reached out to him to see if maybe we could take a family member’s newborn, if not they were taking her to the local fire station.  We had until midnight to get there (Dallas), and well my response was an immediate YES!!!!  I left work, went straight home and we had a family meeting to ensure our 19-year-old was on board, AND her response was “what are you waiting on… GO”!penguin playing pic

We brought Jordan home that night she was 6 weeks old.  We immediately noticed that she wasn’t crying very much and that she was moving her head and arms very little. I took her to the doctor and they told me she wasn’t moving or crying because she had been left in a car seat or swing for long periods of time and had very little interactions with her parents. The doctor told me babies cry because they need something, but if no one responds eventually they stop crying. It really hit me hard now how much she had been neglected. I contacted the CPS agent in Dallas and she explained what all had happened, she told me that Jordan had been born with 4 drugs in her system and that was why they had an open case, I had a home interview and the file was closed with CPS.

monkey communication pocI had heard about #MakeTheFirstFiveCount and their on-line Ages and Stages Questionnaire.  I filled out an Easter Seals referral form and Jordan was evaluated by Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECI) and on January 28, 2015 she was diagnosed with a NON-categorical four-month delay and she started Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy with the Liberty County Easter Seals staff.cheetah moving pic

Ms. Leanne Armel, an amazing therapist that has been with Easter Seals Greater Houston for over fifteen years, started working with Jordan intensely, and she told me this wasn’t going to be easy and for me to stay strong…This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, as her mom my first instinct is to protect her from hurting (she had been through so much already). Every time Ms. Leanne saw me she would always reassure me this was for the best and always gave me early intervention caregiver’s techniques to do at home & in the classroom as well while not doing therapy.

Nov 2015 Infant program blog pic3 by Sharon MottA few months into it Ms. Leanne told me not to give up but to be thinking about talking her to the doctor to see if she would benefit from surgery. I was so scared and unsure as to what to do?? Ms. Leanne was so comforting and really listened to me without judging, she understood how hard it was to see Jordan crying during the sessions, but I prayed every day for God to lead guide and direct all decisions.  January we had our second IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) meeting and Jordan graduated out of the program and was ahead of schedule in most milestones!! Can you believe we were discussing surgery one year ago!!  Now she will be school ready! and we are equipped with more knowledge and resources moving forward!

Sears Family,  Easter Seals Greater Houston Early Childhood Intervention Program Clients

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Your “Go To” for Child Development! #MakeTheFirstFiveCount

What are EIS and SST?

In the world of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) we really like our acronyms. BDI, IFSP, OT, PT, EIS and SST are just a few of them that are common terms to  Infant program Jamie Hearly intervention providers in the field, but to parents these terms are often new and confusing.

Today we’ll be highlighting two important terms in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Infant Program, EIS and SST:

What is an EIS? Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) professionals are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree with coursework related to early childhood intervention. EIS’s also must successfully complete specialized post-graduate training after being hired. They have expertise in infant and toddler development, both typical and atypical patterns. For example, cognitive skills and how infants and toddlers learn, and social interactions like behavior, biting, temper tantrums and picky eating.   EIS’s focus on how to embed the intervention into families’ daily activities so it will increase the opportunity for the child to practice new skills every day. Lauren Stroope, an EIS shares this:

martha and client“My name is Lauren Stroope. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University. I have worked as an EIS for 3 years. As an EIS, I help babies across developmental domains. Some babies on my caseload are just learning to sit up on their own, crawl and walk. I work with the baby and give mom tips for helping them meet motor goals. I have several two-year olds on my caseload who have speech delays. I introduce simple signs to them so they can communicate their wants and needs better while decreasing their frustration. I help kids learn how to sit and attend, and follow directions. One of my favorite success stories is from a child that just graduated. He was in our program for a year. He started out unable to sit and play for more than a few seconds and had no words. By the time he graduated, he could sit and play for our whole session, had several words, and could follow directions and answer questions by pointing or signing.”

What is SST? Specialized Skills Training (SST) is a unique early intervention service only offered by an EIS. A child can receive SST and therapy services. SST shows parents how to help their children learn with a focus on thinking skills, behavior and social skills. These are all skills your child needs to be ready for school. SST shows you ways to help your child during your family’s everyday activities by using items in your home or childcare center, and teaches you about child development and what should be happening next with milestones.leanne and client

What happens in an SST Session? An EIS will schedule visits to join the family during activities they request help with, either at home or in the community. The skills families learn during SST sessions will help the child meet specific developmental goals. For example, if a parent wants their child to talk more, an EIS demonstrates and suggests how to set up their child’s play area to encourage use of more words and asking for favorites – maybe during snack time and using pictures of food to help the child make choices. Since services are also provided in community settings, some staff has even met families in a grocery store to offer suggestions on how to reduce temper tantrums during this routine for families.

ECI Infant Program of Easter Seals Greater Houston believes that working in partnership with families and their young children is the key. An investment in babies today for a better Texas tomorrow! We are specialists in your child’s development. Check out Make The First Five Count http://www.easterseals.com/mtffc/ and make sure your child is reaching their milestones!

Lauren Stroope, EIS, Easter Seals Greater Houston Infant Program / (Early Childhood Education)

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Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month…not to mention National Mobility Awareness Month

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility!

We are continuing to strive to improve and grow to be the best therapy practice we can be. With that mission in 2015 Children’s Therapy received Outpatient ctp mountainRehabilitation Facility status from Medicare and Medicaid of Texas with accreditation through the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. We successfully underwent review of our standards of practice to maintain our accreditation. Advancement to facility status allows us to expand our client base to rehabilitation as well as habilitation therapy and to demonstrate to our stakeholders, community and physicians that we are functioning at the highest degree of standards of practice.

The goal of our practice is always to foster improvements in the lives of the children we serve and their families. Here is Michael’s story.

“Michael has been receiving services at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy for three years now.   When Michael started in the program, he could hardly speak more than a handful of words, was not able to walk up and down stairs & was unable to perform daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, etc. In just a three year time period all of that has dramatically changed.

Michael speaks in three and four word sentences now. This has been such a blessing to our family as it has greatly reduced his frustration from being unable to communicate. Whereas before, we had to guess what he might want for a snack and present different options until he said the word yes, he can now tell us. Michael has had wonderful speech therapists while at Easter Seals & his success is greatly attributable to their hard work & perseverance.

ctp cutie pieMichael was born with Hypertonia which means it is harder for him to do physical activities for a long period of time; his body gets tired more quickly.   When Michael first started physical therapy at Easter Seals he couldn’t take a step up onto a curb without holding on to someone’s hand. He now climbs up stairs on his own.   He is also able to participate in activities which involve a greater level of endurance. This has improved his ability to socialize and his overall quality of life.

Michael never received occupational therapy prior to starting therapy at Easter Seals Children’s Therapy. Things such as getting your own glass of water, bathing yourself & getting dressed independently are skills which as adults we take for granted. These however, have taken Michael significant effort to master & thanks to his occupational therapist he continues to become more independent and able to care for his basic daily needs.”

This is what we do at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility.

Mary Dawson, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Program Director, Children’s Therapy

 

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