Get yourself active blog

Vacancy: Advocacy Manager at Disability Sheffield Centre for Independent Living

Tuesday 18th June 2019

Disability Sheffield, Centre for Independent Living is looking to recruit an advocacy manager. Their advocacy service supports disabled people to exercise their rights and be fully involved in decisions about their life.

Sitting alongside the other work Disability Sheffield delivers the Advocacy Manager will be responsible for supporting and supervising the advocacy team, which delivers a range of advocacy (statutory and non-statutory) as part of the Sheffield Advocacy Hub.

They are looking for an exceptional person with experience of both delivering advocacy and management. This is a unique opportunity to work within a small local disabled people’s user-led organisation. They particularly welcome applications from people with lived experience of disability or long term impairments.

Hours are 28 per week, (£28,485.00 f/t) £22,788.00 actual salary.

The closing date for applications is 8am on Monday 15th July 2019. Interviews will be held on Tuesday 23rd July 2019. For an application pack go to www.disabilitysheffield.org.uk, email emily.morton@disabilitysheffield.org.uk or phone 0114 2536750. CVs will not be accepted.

In other news: Join in the Great Get Together this weekend with GOGA

Join the Great Get Together this weekend

Tuesday 18th June 2019

Get Out Get Active (GOGA) partners are delighted to be involved with The Great Get Together from 21 – 23 June. The programme, funded by Spirit of 2012, will host a range of activities across the country, encouraging more people across the country to get together.

The Jo Cox Foundation in memory of the late MP’s belief that ‘we all have more in common than that which divides us’ established the Great Get Together. It seeks to bridge division and remind communities of how much they have in common by staging a series of picnics, events and meetups.

The Great Get Together is now one of the UK’s biggest and most successful charitable projects, honouring Jo Cox by showcasing the values she championed.

Since its launch in 2017, which has seen over a hundred thousand get togethers and almost a million people taking part, it has become a powerful symbol of national unity and community.

This weekend, GOGA partners are joining in. GOGA is an exciting programme that supports disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy being active together. With support from Spirit of 2012, all partners are focused on getting some of the UK’s least active people moving.

All involved in GOGA believe in building happier, healthier, more active communities. The activities are about having fun, making friends and feeling included.

The 2019 Great Get Together theme is ‘Let’s Get Back Together’. It’s a chance for people across the country to reconnect with old friends, families, communities and groups, and comes at a time when it’s needed most of all. Studies have repeatedly shown that Britain is more divided today than at any time since Jo’s death.

Spirit of 2012 was delighted to award £20,000 to the Jo Cox Foundation, which it has matched with a further fund to support its portfolio of projects to hold Great Get Together events. The idea is to develop a framework for storytelling that will empower local organisers to tell their own unique stories.

“Get Out Get Active partners and our funders, Spirit of 2012, are really proud to be involved in the Great Get Together. This weekend enables us to bring more people together in their communities to find activities that are appealing, accessible, fun and inclusive. We hope those who come along to activities, will continue to take part and feel the social, physical and mental health benefits long-term.”

Kat Southwell, Head of Programmes for Activity Alliance and managing GOGA

Among the GOGA Get Togethers this weekend will be:

  • A great walk in the park takes place at the Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy, Scotland on Friday 21 June from 10.30 – 12.00pm. GOGA Fife coaches will lead the Big Warm Up and peer mentors and volunteers will lead the walk around the beautiful Beveridge Park, followed by tea and cake at the Kirkcaldy Rugby Club.
  • Rochdale marks the occasion on Friday 21 June between 10am until 2pm, with some exciting cycling sessions at The Bowlee Sports Centre in Manchester.
  • GOGA Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon in Northern Ireland will be celebrating through a Tai Chi and Tea session at Banbridge Leisure centre from 12 noon until 2pm on Friday 21 June.
  • On Saturday 22 June at Lister Park from 11:30am until 2pm, GOGA Bradford is putting on a range of activities such as Parkrun, cycling and Tai Chi followed by celebrations.
  • Between 11am and 3pm on Sunday 23 June, GOGA Thanet celebrates through their Wheelability summer open day at Minnis Bay in

In the GOGA spirit, you can download our branded bunting, chat mat or colouring fun activity.

Contact the Get Out Get Active team to find out how you can get involved. Email goga@activityalliance.org.uk or call 01509 227750.

Find out more about Get Out Get Active here.

In other news: A Shared Passion Helping Disabled Riders

A Shared Passion Helping Disabled Riders

Tuesday 28 May 2019

In the 50th anniversary year of RDA, the opportunities available to disabled riders are now much more varied than when the charity first began five decades ago.

Smarden Theraputic Stables has been delivering individual horse-based therapy sessions since it gained its Accessibility Mark accreditation in 2016

Two Kent-based centres that are working together to complement each other perfectly are Chalkdown RDA and Smarden Therapeutic Stables, which is an Accessibility Mark accredited centre.

The two very different groups are located just seven miles apart but share the same passion and goals for making a huge difference to the lives of their amazing riders.

Accessibility Mark was created to try and ease the strain on RDA Groups who are often massively over-subscribed and it also provides an option for riders to participate in their own communities, reducing the need to travel to their nearest RDA Group that can often be some distance away.

Smarden Therapeutic Stables, which is run by Lisa Evans, gained its accreditation in 2016, and has been successfully delivering individual horse-based therapy sessions six days a week to a variety of clients, including local special needs and residential schools and social services.

Chalkdown RDA is a flourishing group with over 40 volunteers, 30 riders and 10 ponies that meet once a week at Duckhurst Farm in Staplehurst. The dedicated team offers riding sessions that have huge therapeutic benefit to riders, giving them a great sense of personal achievement and enjoyment.

Chalkdown RDA and Smarden Theraputic Stables recently jioned forces to talk to members of the public about the different riding opportunities offered by RDA.

Pauline Roestenburg accidently discovered Smarden Therapeutic Stables when she took over as Chairman of Chalkdown RDA in 2016, having heard about it from one of her new volunteers.

On hearing about a new group offering riding lessons for disabled riders, Pauline wanted to find out more:

“It took me by surprise so in order to understand what Accessibility Mark was all about, I got in the car and, together with my Group Coach Emma Ginger, we went over to meet Lisa and see what she was doing.

“We liked her instantly and could see how we shared the same passion and vision.    Lisa is a hands-on ideas person and together with the right backing there could be no stopping us!”

Chalkdown RDA is a flourishing group with over 40 volunteers and 30 riders

The greatest asset of the two centres to riders within the community is offering the flexibility to ride more frequently. Chalkdown’s waiting list is growing all the time and the collaboration with Smarden allows Lisa and Pauline to liaise with each other to find the most suitable riding option for individual riders.

Said Lisa:

“Last year one of Chalkdown’s school groups had made such fantastic progress that they were ready to move up to the next level.

“We stepped in and found them a riding slot where they were able to advance their riding skills and learn more about pony management. This, in turn, freed up a large group session at Chalkdown, helping them to reduce their waiting list.”

Pauline and Lisa recently joined forces to spend time at a local fair talking to members of the public about the different riding opportunities offered by RDA – a rare break in both their busy schedules.

“I regularly recommend riders to Smarden Therapeutic if I can.  It is a far more positive option for our applicants than being told they are going onto our waiting list.” added Pauline.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been  approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial to riders of varying levels of disability.

There are currently 51 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk

In other news: Get Yourself Active to hold evaluation webinar

Get involved this Dementia Action Week – 20th-26th May

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Over a third of people living with dementia feel lonely or have lost touch with their friends following their diagnosis.

With thousands of people living with dementia facing isolation, the theme for Dementia Action Week 2019 is inclusion. By coming together and taking action we can help people living with dementia to stay connected to the things they love for longer – you have a special part to play in helping us to achieve this goal.

This Dementia Action Week, Get Yourself Active is working with Alzheimer’s Society to ask all our volunteers to become Dementia Friends. There are over 2.9 million Dementia Friends in England and Wales, changing the way people think, act and talk about dementia.

Find out more and become a Dementia Friend by clicking here: https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/register-digital-friend.

In other news: Sport England and the Alzheimer’s Society release dementia-friendly physical activity and sport guide

Cerebral Palsy Sport launch the Around Britain #CPCan Challenge for Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Thursday 14 February 2019

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. It’s a time for celebrating and educating, and Cerebral Palsy Sport are recognising the month by sharing the impact of its work and setting a new exciting fundraising challenge.

Around 2-2.5 in every 1000 children in the UK are born with cerebral palsy, and there are an estimated 30,000 children with cerebral palsy in the UK.

Cerebral Palsy Sport have today officially launched the #CPCan Challenge, a challenge open to everyone to walk, cycle, swim, throw, kick or jump as far as possible during the month of March, with the target of a combined distance of the British Coastline – 17,819.88km.

Stories of the challenge will be shared through the Cerebral Palsy Sport website and social media platforms, and donations can be made through the dedicated Just Giving page.

Cerebral Palsy Sport are also encouraging people to use the hashtag #CPCan throughout March – a positive message to everyone that those with Cerebral Palsy can achieve amazing things and reach their own goals. There is even a special #CPCan photo frame for anyone to use during the month which can be activated here. Further fundraising ideas for March can also be found here.

Cerebral Palsy Sport is the country’s leading national disability sports charity supporting people with cerebral palsy to reach their sporting potential and putting people with cerebral palsy and their families at the heart of everything we do.

Our 2019 Sport Development programme consists of many events and activities that will provide opportunities for children, young people and adults to access sport, often for the first time who can then continue to participate on a regular basis. To find the full list of events we have planned please click here

Sign up to the #CPCan Challenge today here.

For further information, please contact Sally Drummond, National Disability Sport Engagement Officer: sandydrummond@cpsport.org  or 0115 9257027 or visit the website www.cpsport.org.

In other news: New dementia-friendly physical activity and sport guide.

New dementia-friendly physical activity and sport guide

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Sport England and the Alzheimer’s Society have collaborated to produce a guide to support the sector to get people with Alzheimer’s and dementia more active.

This guide is being used to equip the physical activity and sport sector with the resources and knowledge they require to unite against dementia.

It aims to inform and educate individuals and organisations so they have a better understanding of dementia and how it affects people. It also provides tools and guidance so that the sector can help more people affected by dementia lead more active lives.

Approximately 850,000 people in the UK live with dementia and they face countless barriers when becoming or remaining active, preventing them from reaping the benefits that being active brings.

By becoming dementia-friendly, leisure centres, gyms, sports clubs and community centres can enjoy the benefits of improved customer experiences, increased revenue, better staff retention and help those with dementia to live happier, healthier lives.

The project as a whole is part of Sport England’s £1.3 million investment of National Lottery money into the Richmond Group of Charities, who work with those with long-term health conditions, to help them get active.

Download the ‘Dementia-friendly sport and physical activity guide’ here. 

In other news: Inclusive Sports Programme Ends Successful Year With An Award Win

Riding for the Disabled Association marks its 50th anniversary year with its 50 Faces campagin

Monday 7th January 2019

To celebrate its 50th anniversary year in 2019, Riding for the Disabled Association is marking the milestone through its 50 Faces campaign, telling the stories of some of the amazing people who make RDA the extraordinary organisation it is today.

Designed to challenge preconceptions about disability and volunteering, and to celebrate the diversity and inclusiveness of RDA, 50 Faces features a collage of portraits, as well as the surprising and often moving stories of horse riders, carriage drivers and volunteers from all over the UK.

“A 50th anniversary could be a time for looking back, but we wanted to celebrate where we are now, as leaders in disability sport, and also look to our future – helping even more disabled people to benefit from time with horses,” says Caroline Ward, Communications Manager at RDA UK. “50 Faces is an engaging and interactive way for people to find out more about what we do – and will hopefully inspire more people to get involved.”

Here we meet… Phoebe Boyce

Phoebe Boyce

Phoebe Boyce first experienced horse riding when she was eight-years-old before she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Due to her undiagnosed condition, Phoebe found new experiences difficult and felt misunderstood.

School was also challenging for Phoebe, who would often bottle up her feelings only for them to explode at home and as she is hyper-sensitive to noises and smells, her teachers found this difficult to understand.

Phoebe, from Derbyshire and her family, including mum Abi were hugely relived when she was finally diagnosed.

A few years later Phoebe began to think about horse riding once again and discovered RDA’s website when googling about horse riding for disabled people.

In April 2017, Phoebe started riding at Scropton RDA Group. Her first lesson was a group ride, where she was led by a volunteer so they could assess how capable she was.

Phoebe progressed really quickly and widened her knowledge by reading books and watching You Tube videos in her spare time away from the stables.

Phoebe (sat at the front of the wooden horse) and her friends from Scropton RDA

After a few months of riding, even though she is allergic to horses Phoebe joined the stable club and started volunteering on a Saturday morning, helping out with the other children and looking after the horses, which boosted her confidence and helped her make new friends.

She is now a member of the Scropton RDA Team and participates in showjumping and dressage, qualifying for the RDA National Championships in 2018, where she finished 7th in her showjumping category.

Phoebe said:

“The thing about RDA that makes me keep coming back is the feeling of a community and being a part of something. The staff and volunteers are all so kind and I love the thrill of horse riding and learning new things. Also, I have made lots of new friends.

“Being part of RDA helps me in other aspects of my life as it gives me something to look forward to during the week and I have gained so much confidence with meeting new people and being more independent.

“I feel I challenge misconceptions about disability because many people don’t realise I actually have a disability, as it’s invisible. RDA treat me the same as everyone else, I get the support and help I need to improve my riding and I feel included, unlike at other places where I feel like an outsider.

“Many people with autism find it hard to socialise, and although I also have these difficulties I still enjoy volunteering and meeting and helping all the riders.”

Phoebe’s mum, Abi is incredibly proud of her achievements:

“It is nice for Phoebe to do something independently without me around. When she started volunteering, I could drop her off and then come back later.

“To be able to leave her somewhere she is safe and happy is wonderful. She has made new friends and even researched and found the 50 Faces campaign herself and wanted to be included.”

You can read Phoebe’s story, and meet the other 49 Faces of RDA at www.rda.org.uk.

In other news: Horses are amazing animals that have the ability to make a real difference to people’s lives.

 

DR UK Chair of the Board of Trustees Martin Stevens awarded OBE in Queen’s New Year’s Honours list

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Martin Stevens has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for his services to people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Martin Stevens, 55, was diagnosed with MS in 1995 and has been supporting people with the condition and other disabilities for more than two decades. He began volunteering with the MS Society following his MS diagnosis, serving in various roles, including as chair of the Macclesfield group, and as a trustee until 2014.

Mr Stevens, who lives with his wife and two teenage children in Macclesfield, is currently a trustee at the MSIF, a global network of MS organisations. He is also Chair of the Board of Trustees at charity Disability Rights UK.

Mr Stevens said:

“To be appointed OBE is a fantastic and unexpected honour. Being diagnosed with MS in 1995 was a life changing event. For more than 20 years I have been able to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life for people affected by multiple sclerosis both here in the UK and across the world.

“More recently with Disability Rights UK, I have had the opportunity to work more widely on equal participation for all people affected by disabilities. Through this journey I have been privileged to work with dedicated teams and inspirational people.”

Patricia Gordon, Acting Chief Executive at the MS Society, said:

 “Martin has made an enormous contribution to the MS community and supported people with MS over many years, and I’m thrilled he’s been recognised in this way.

“More than 100,000 people in the UK are affected by MS, and through his experience living with the condition and his dedication as a volunteer and Trustee, Martin will have helped many of them.”

Peer Baneke, Chief Executive Officer of MSIF, said:

“Martin has contributed a great deal, both within the UK and at global level, drawing attention to issues that are crucial from the perspective of people with MS. Two issues have particularly benefited from Martin’s attention and advocacy. The first is how the quality of life of a person with MS is closely linked to that of their families, friends and loved ones. When one is affected, so is the other.

“The second issue Martin has driven forward is that every person with MS, wherever they live in the world, should have access to effective medicines, treatment and healthcare – an aim which the global MSIF movement is now actively pursuing.”

 Kamran Mallick, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK, added:

 “We’re delighted that Martin has been recognised for his local, national and international work around disability and disability issues over the last 20 years.

“His commitment to disability rights, and vision for disabled people to be treated equally, has been a key element of his contribution to our work. We have really appreciated having his experience and passion to draw on during his time as a board member, and chair, of the organisation.”

In other news: Latest Active Lives Survey: Small gains yet somewhat significant ones

Latest Active Lives Survey: Small gains yet somewhat significant ones

Thursday 8 November 2018

The latest results for the Active Lives Survey were released. Leo Capella, Outgoing Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active provides some reaction and analysis to the results.

Something that’s slipped quietly below the radar are the latest results from the Active Lives Survey done by Sport England. Which is a shame as actually there’s some positive news from these statistics to talk about for disabled people.

The number of disabled people that are active (150 mins+ of physical active) crept up by 0.2% from the first survey which was done in November 2015-2016. With the population of disabled people who were classed as inactive decreasing by 0.9%.

The amount of people with disabilities who’ve been fairly  active (30-149 minutes) rose.

Mirrored trend in England of people as a whole becoming less physically inactive which fell by 0.3%.

These statistics have been fuelled by the rise of people with one impairment doing more physical activity. For example the percentage with people with 1 impairment who were inactive fell by 1.6%.

Although this small change may be seen as insignificant due to the small figure, we think it is significant as this increase means that thousands of disabled people have chosen to become more physically active. After all, this percentage rise represents 52,000 people becoming more active. The size of a medium sized town in England.

Also when you consider that the amount of people who stopped becoming in active fell from  4,013,100 in 15-16 to 3,978,800 in 2018 you’re talking about (yes you’ve guessed it) the population of a size of a small town becoming more active. So a town of people isn’t a small amount by any means. Maybe it’s not a large town or even dare I say it a city of people but it can still be called progress.

There is still a lot of work to do though.

As a certain piece of research published by the Activity Alliance shows, although four out of five disabled people want to be more physically active almost half of disabled people (47%) fear losing their benefits if they are seen to be physically active. This is a scary statistic and one that needs to be tackled.

Also something less reported but equally important is analysis done by Dr Rachel Aldred et al. at the University of Westminster which shows that the majority of London do not consider disabled people as fully fledged cyclists in their transport strategy documents. This might seem like an irrelevant statistic but it goes to show that there needs to be far more work done to create an environment both physically and socially that enables disabled people to be physically active, whether inside London or outside of it.

Last year Robert Groves hand cycled the coastline of England to fight preconceived ideas of what is possible for someone who is paralysed below the waist, and raise awareness about many societal issues including climate change and the environment.

It’s not all bad news for disabled people in terms of physical activity. There are wonderful things going on to increase the amount of activity disabled people can do: whether on National Fitness Day or through own work including our training sessions for social workers and the various personal experiences of disabled people getting themselves physically active. I’ve enjoyed being part of those efforts in the time I’ve been part of Get Yourself Active.

I guess that in the end though the situation is best summed up by an old African proverb: “Many rivers crossed, many rivers still to cross”. And hopefully by the time the next Active Lives Survey results are released more people including those with multiple disabilities will be physically active.

In other news: Information is still one of the biggest barriers to disabled people getting active. Look at our “Information in your local area page” to find some links to resource directories and activity lists.

Accessibility Mark Helps Transform Lives

Friday 14 December 2018

Horses are amazing animals that have the ability to make a real difference to people’s lives. Evidence of this can be seen on a daily basis at Accessibility Mark centres up and down the country.

When Church Farm Equestrian Centre organised an event to mark Disabled Access Day in March 2017, they hoped it might generate some interest from a few new riders.

Such was the success of the event that some of the visitors who attended the day are still riding at the centre nearly two years on, and it has had a hugely positive impact on their lives.

The level of confidence that Alisha has developed through riding has transferred into other areas of her life.

Julia Evans went along to the event with her eight-year-old daughter, Alisha. Having been born with Down Syndrome, Alisha was behind in her cognitive skills and spoke in a very low tone but is an active child that is very willing to give things a go.

Alisha had never had anything to do with ponies previously so was slightly nervous of them on the day, willing only to groom a pony at arm’s length. Despite her nerves she enjoyed the experience so Julia signed her up for more sessions.

Alisha began riding at a Disabled Access Day event at Church Farm Equestrian in 2017.

From March to July 2017, Alisha attended Church Farm once a week, just to groom the ponies, with no pressure from the staff to take things any further, then one day at the end of July Alisha announced to instructor Kay Padfield, that today she was going to ‘ride a horse’.

That first ride on Crystal the pony was a turning point from which Alisha has never looked back and she now rides some of the biggest ponies on the yard.

Julia said:

“The level of confidence that Alisha has developed through riding has transferred into other areas of her life. She used to get frustrated when people couldn’t understand her but this has now gone, which is definitely down to horse therapy. She has a bond with the pony that is unbelievable. 

“When Alisha now struggles with challenges, I remind her that she can ride a horse, so she can do anything. Horses are not judgemental, which Alisha senses and it is just what hyper-sensitive children need.”

Alice Boyett saw the Disabled Access Day event at Church Farm advertised on Facebook and following a chat with Kay on the phone she was encouraged to pop along with her son Ethan. Following a brief ride on a beach donkey, Alice had been waiting for a place to become available at a different riding school for over a year.

Now 12-years-old, Ethan was born with Translocation Down Syndrome 21:21 and was also diagnosed with autism when he was five.

Ethan has complex needs and is completely non-verbal. He is just learning sign language and uses a simple choosing board to choose an activity, food or drink.

Even though Ethan loves being around people, he can sometimes find it

Ethan riding through a water tray during the summer heatwave.

difficult to understand how to behave properly and struggles to form relationships with people, and can become frightened if he is unsure of a certain situation and can lash out. Due to poor muscle tone and lax ligaments Ethan also has mobility issues.

During the free taster session the whole family including Ethan’s twin brother got to look around the yard before Ethan got to enjoy his first ride. Although Ethan was initially hesitant and wanted his Dad to stay close by, he enjoyed the experience and it was obvious he was happy to be there.

That evening Alice contacted Kay and they arranged for Ethan to attend for a weekly lesson.

Said Alice:

“Riding has benefitted Ethan in so many ways, on a personal, physical and emotional level.  Accessing hobbies and clubs for a child like Ethan is so difficult; riding is perfect for him. I can honestly say it is the highlight of his week. He signs ‘time to go riding’ so we know how important it is to him as he signs very little generally.

“He enjoys greeting all the ponies before his lesson and feels so comfortable at Church Farm that he happily walks around by himself, he’s built up a lovely relationship with Kay in particular and is very attached to her.

“It’s great that Ethan has an interest and activity that he can enjoy without me having to be right by his side supporting him, it gives him some level of independence which is so important.

“Riding is so good for Ethan’s physical wellbeing as it helps with increasing muscle strength and good posture, as well as his listening skills. From a sensory point of view, it’s great for Ethan to be able to pat and greet the ponies and he absolutely loves twiddling with their manes!  Without a doubt riding relaxes Ethan and it is very special to him.

Ethan enjoys riding so much that his lesson has become the highlight of his week.

“I would also like to add that Church Farm have been so welcoming and respectful towards Ethan and eager to learn all about him and his needs.  The staff sign to Ethan and help him to sign ‘thank you’ to the pony after his lesson.

“Church Farm have exceeded all our expectations and really personalised all of Ethan’s lessons.  He’s ridden to music, through a water trough during the heatwave, and dressed up at Christmas to post cards through a Christmas post box while riding.  Thanks to Church Farm, Ethan has found a lifelong hobby and interest which makes him very happy.”

Disabled Access Day 2019 takes place on Saturday, March 16, for more information visit www.disabledaccessday.com

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial to riders of varying levels of disability.

There are currently 51 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk.

In other news: Inclusive Sports Programme Ends Successful Year With An Award Win

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