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Twelve Things You Can Do to Plan for Your Child's Future Today...

When time nears for a child to leave the nest, most parents feel both joy and dread. Many parents make that transition gracefully with the child who is not disabled. However, parents of children with dual sensory impairments or other severe disabilities are often confronted with issues they have never before considered. Although this can be a very stressful time, there are way to help make transition smoother. Even when a child is very young there are things that families can begin to do to plan for the future. What follows is a list of twelve things you may want to think about doing now to help prepare you for the time when your child leaves the educational settings where services are mandated and enters the world of adult services where services are based on eligibility.

1. Draw up a will, plan your estate and write a Letter of Intent.

Most people, when they reach a certain age or when they begin to acquire property and other assets know that they should have a will drawn up. Although we all plan to live to a ripe old age, there are no guarantees. It is doubly important for families who have a child with disabilities to plan for the distribution of their estate since many of the services the child will depend on as an adult can be impacted by the financial assets left to him or her. Many parents can find help in developing an Estate Plan from organizations such as Estate Planning for the Disabled, The Prudential, or lawyers well versed in the rules governing eligibility to services such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, low-income housing, etc. Another important part of long-term planning for your child is developing a Letter of Intent. This is a document that outlines your wishes and provides important information about your child life that can be accessed by a court or those left to support and advocate for your child after you are no longer able to do so. Information on all of these services and documents is available through the Outreach Department by calling (512) 454-8631, extension 156.

2. Plan for their child's adulthood very early on.

The dreams that you weave for your non-disabled child from infancy help you to get ready for the time when that child is on his own. Parents of children with disabilities also need to begin early to generate dreams even though you may not be able to imagine a time when that child will live without your support. Given that most children do out live their parents, that time will come sooner or later. Imagine your child as the adult he or she will become. Think about what they will look like, where they might live, who will be their friends, what will they do to contribute to their community. Begin to share these dreams with family, friends, and educational staff. Parents may also want to consider learning more about Personal Futures Planning as a way to help generate a new vision for the future. Document your wishes in a Letter of Intent. Don't be afraid to dream big.

3. Get to know adults with disabilities.

Many parents have difficulty imagining their child as an adult because they do not know adults with severe disabilities. This often hinders their ability to dream. This obstacle can be overcome in a number of ways. Attending workshops and conferences generally offers opportunities to meet parents whose children are older. Many parent organizations such as the Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas, the Association for Retarded Citizens, P.A.T.H. or other such groups will assist in making these parent-to-parent connections. There are also a number of consumer organizations such as the Texas Deaf-Blind Association, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, the Texas Association for Retinitis Pigmentosa which may help you meet adults with deaf-blindness or severe disabilities. Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) may also be a good resource for connecting with adults who would be willing to meet you and your child or share some of their stories.

4. Find out about support options which exist in your community.

It is also important to be familiar with the different support options for people with disabilities which are available in your community. This would include agencies and organizations involved in supported living, work, and recreation programs. Your local Mental Retardation Authority can generally supply information on groups homes, supported living programs, Medicare Waiver programs, supported work programs, etc. Your special education department, Education Service Center, and Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) may also have information on these programs.

5. Learn to advocate for services you and your child will need in the future.

Contacting other families through such parent support groups as The Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas, Partners Assisting Texans with Handicaps, or the Association for Retarded Citizens can also be helpful in learning about services. These organizations can help you learn how to advocate for services that do not currently exist. Remember, unlike educational services which are mandated for your child; adult services are based on eligibility. You need to help educate those service providers and the legislature about your child's needs, so services can be available when he needs them. Many of these organizations produce newsletters which can keep you up to date on changes occurring through legislation which will impact you and your child.

6. Keep your connections to your community.

Many of the opportunities you seek for your child may come through your own community connections. For that reason it is important that you give yourself permission to take time away from the care of your child to keep or build your own community connections. Of course, finding a sitter may seem impossible. Forming sitter co-ops with other parents who have children with disabilities maybe one solution. Parents can take turns keeping each others kids so that each of them have an occasional time out. There are also respite care services and Mom's-day-out programs in many communities which are available for children with disabilities. Too often parents feel incredibly guilty if they send time on activities that are not directly related to caring for or educating their child. Keeping those community contacts and connections strong may be the most important thing you can do for your child's future. People who come to know and care about you can be strong allies in advocating for services for your child.

7. Help your child make connections in his community.

Help your child to develop a circle of friends from his community. The more people, both non-disabled and disabled, who know and value your child, the better that child's life will be when you are no longer around. Make sure your child's IEP goals include goals to develop a network of friends. See that he has opportunities everyday to interact with his non-disabled peers. Plan opportunities for your child to get to know people such as the neighborhood grocer, the post man, the waiter at the ice cream store, the kids that play at the park. Help other children to interact socially with your child by identifying things they can do together such as playing a computer game, shopping together, helping you make cookies, etc.

Although the services and supports provided by disability focused organizations and the educational system are important, it is also important to help your child make connections to individuals without disabilities. Learn more about the church groups, social organizations, recreational clubs and programs, as well as businesses in your community. Can your child access these groups and have opportunities to participate in activities in these settings?

8. Give your child opportunities to contribute to his family, his friends, and his community.

Work activities can be as diverse as putting a napkin by a plate, picking up toys, helping sort items for recycling, or doing the laundry. Consider helping your child to become involved in service organization or volunteer programs. This could include things such as helping to pick up litter on the highways or play grounds, participating in programs that bring pets into nursing homes, scout service activities, helping to decorate the gym for the school dance, or carrying the paper to the porch of a neighbor who is elderly. Often times these types of activities can happen as a part of the school experience. Your child and those around him will benefit from the contributions he can make. These contributions, however small, also help to focus on his abilities rather than his disabilities.

9. Help your child to develop group recreation skills as well as independent leisure skills.

One way to facilitate the development of friendships is through recreation and leisure activities. Include time for your child to learn a variety of activities that he can do alone and with others just for fun. Individuals with severe disabilities are capable of participating in a variety of recreational activities such as skating, bowling, arcade games, walking, swimming, etc. These activities will bring him into contact with individuals who also enjoy this activity, building in a common interest which can be a basis for a friendship to grow. Your child will also be happier (and so will his caregivers) if he has several things he enjoys doing on his own for fun. It may include starting a collection, listening to tapes, watering the garden, drawing, rocking in a rocking chair, or any activity that helps him relax or entertain himself.

10. Identify things that seem to work for your child, his preferences, and the things that don't work for him.

Be sure to share key information about your child with individuals who will be involved in his life. Again, you might want to write a Letter of Intent which will include this type of information. You might also make a videotape to show examples of things that work or things that cause problems for your child. This might include information about the important relationships and events in your child's life, a mini personal history. You know your child better than anyone. The history you have can be invaluable to those individuals who come into your child's life.

11. Be sure your child has the skills he needs to communicate with others.

Does your child have a way to communicate his basic needs to another individual, i.e., hunger, pain, fatigue, etc.? That communication may come through spoken language or sign language, pictures, objects, gestures, or signals. The form is not as important as its effectiveness. He also needs to be able to get assistance. For some individuals it may imply learning to use a TDD; for others it might mean vocalizing in a way that has been identified as their distress signal. Perhaps most importantly, does your child use his communication skills to interact socially with others? Seek opportunities to have conversations with your child at whatever level he is able to communicate. Teach him the joy of interacting with another human being.

12. Learn about resources that help with Transition Planning.

TEA's Transitions Project and Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) can assist you and your child in planning for the transition from school to post-educational environments. Your school and your Education Service Center should also have staff who are knowledgeable about adult services. Discuss your need for information with them and ask for their help in planning. Remember, it is never too early to look to the future. Discuss the future with those involved in developing your child's IEP; make sure they are in tune with your vision. Of course, you may also contact TSBVI Outreach Department for assistance or if you need a sounding board for your concerns and ideas.

Conclusion

You may feel overwhelmed by this list of suggestions, but you don't have to begin to do all of them at once. Pick out one or two of these suggestions and start to focus on them. Let me suggest that drawing up a will or writing a Letter of Intent may be a good place to begin.

If you are the parent of a young child, it may be hard to feel the urgency of looking into his adult future. However, the sooner you begin to think in terms of preparing him to be an adult who is as independent as possible and connected to his community, the better off he will be when the transition is actually made. If you are the parent of an older child, you are probably aware of how quickly time moves on. Share your knowledge with others who are just beginning to look at the future. If you have not begun to plan, do so now.


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25 October 2006
NO KIDS CASH CRISIS

CHILDREN'S Minister Peter Peacock yesterday denied starving kids' social work services of cash.

The denial came after a top-level report warned Scots councils faced a funding gap of £161million for children's social work services.

In his report, Professor Arthur Midwinter warned Executive funding had failed to match the rising number of kids under council care. There are now over 1000 more kids in care than five years ago.

But Peacock insists there are also more social workers in post than ever before.

He said: "There are now 25 per cent more social workers in our local authorities than since 2001 -that's a huge increase.

"We've got more social workers than any point in our history."


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Stark warning as society demonises its children...

SCOTTISH society is at "a very dangerous tipping point", because young people are being turned into hate figures by adults, according to a leading council official.

The Rev Ewan Aitken, the leader of Edinburgh city council, said the nation's youth was being "demonised" and that it was vital to address the misconception that most of them were up to no good.

 

Speaking in Edinburgh last night, he pointed to recent research which showed that two-thirds of British adults would be too scared to step in if they saw a group of teenagers vandalising a bus shelter.

By contrast, people in Germany, Spain and Italy would all be more likely to intervene.

Mr Aitken, who is also a former education spokesman for the local authority umbrella group COSLA, said: "I believe we are at a tipping point, a very dangerous tipping point, about how young people are perceived in society.

"We are not yet in crisis but we are rapidly perceiving that we are, and when 'truth' is built with perception, not fact, we are in real trouble."

Mr Aitken's comments coincide with a Scottish Executive consultation exercise which aims to find out what facilities young people want to keep them occupied and off the streets.

He said: "We used to say that the first flush of youth was the most exciting time of your life, but now more and more people are saying, 'We need to keep young people indoors and hammer them with ASBOs'. We have created a situation where there is a fear of young people."

Mr Aitken said the solution was to make sure young people were involved in making decisions that affected their lives.

He said he wanted Edinburgh to become "the most youth-friendly city in Europe" and that the city was already taking steps to get young people involved in the decision-making process.

A spokeswoman for the Executive said they also wanted to hear young people's views as part of their consultation exercise.

She said: "If you speak to young people, they'll often say there's nothing for them to do.

"The consultation is not about imposing solutions, it's about getting young people engaged and helping them to find fulfilling and interesting ways to spend their time."

'Don't tar us all with the same brush'

MELISSA Hewitt, 16, a sixth- year pupil at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, agreed that young people are getting an unfair reputation.

"Some young people are getting into trouble, but they are in the minority," she said.

"I've never been in trouble and neither have my friends, so it's unfair for us all to get tarred with the same brush."

Melissa also welcomed Ewan Aitken's decision to speak up on their behalf, adding: "It's important for young people not to feel excluded.

"If we feel involved, then it's less likely that any of us will cause trouble."

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31 October 2006
TORY: NAME SEX BEASTS ON THE RUN

CONVICTED sex offenders who don't report to the police should be named and shamed, the Tories said yesterday.

Scots justice spokeswomen Margaret Mitchell called for the public to be told if sex beasts failed to report their whereabouts.

It was revealed recently 24 sex offenders were unaccounted for. Half were at large in Scotland, police believed, while half were thought to have fled abroad.

Mitchell spoke out after Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson refused to say if the absconded offenders' victims had been notified.

She said: "Nobody wants to see vigilante culture develop.

"But the Justice Minister is clearly choosing to ignore the fact that these people deliberately sought to abscond by ceasing to maintain contact with local authorities or the police.

"In these circumstances, it could reasonably be argued that they have forfeited the right for their anonymity to be preserved."


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Rappers help in fight against guns.

Last updated at 12:06pm on 3rd November 2006

Take a rap: a still from the police anti-gun video

Children as young as 11 are to be targeted by a new police campaign warning about the dangers of getting involved with guns.

The £100,000 music video depicts a fatal clash between two teenage gangs.

The killer is shown panicking as the police close in - and living in fear of being shot in revenge by his victim's friends.

The video features grime band Roll Deep's new song Badman.

"I don't care what badman told you, you can be a badman without a revolver," the lyrics say, before warning: "Now look, your family's not safe.

"Revenge is wanted and you're locked away. It's a circle of pain that never goes away, all because of one gunshot that you bus' that day."

The campaign, unveiled today by the Met and members of Roll Deep at Brixton's Ritzy cinema, is aimed at 11- to 16-year-olds and was prompted by concern about the possession and use of guns by younger teenagers.

A 14-year-old girl from Colindale has been charged with supplying machine guns to gangs while a 17-year-old, two 18-year-olds and three 19-year-olds are facing homicide charges after fatal shootings.

The number of young gun victims has soared, with 69 teenagers shot in incidents investigated by the Met's Operation Trident squad, which tackles shootings in the black community.

Some experts blame urban music for glamorising gun culture and the video intends to counteract that.

Roll Deep are concerned about gun crime, particularly in east London from where they come.

In a statement, they said: "Guns are being talked about and used more and more by the youngsters we see.

"The idea of using music to talk to the kids seems an innovative way of trying to push the anti-gun message."

Members of the band will also visit schools in Lambeth, Hackney, Brent, Haringey and Southwark to press home the anti-gun message.

Lyrics of Badman by Roll Deep

They keep squeezing but they're missing the point.

I've had my head screwed from a boy. The boys that you roll with, they ain't your boys.

You don't realise now you're with the wrong crowd.

Listen, you might learn something, earn something and turn something around.

Use your loaf when you're on the roads and watch how your life turns around.

Of course there was gonna be consequences. When jumping fences, you'll get court and sentenced. That's a bad look and entrance.

Keep it up, you won't see your pension.

Watch me, I'll live till I'm older.

If you like leng so much, go army and be a soldier.

I don't care what badman told you, you can be a badman without a revolver.


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9 November 2006
HELP FOR JOBLESS

EXPERTS from business and the voluntary sector have been drafted in to help slash the number of jobless youngsters.

Enterprise minister Nicol Stephen said the four men would work with employers to aid 20,000 "NEETs" - youngsters not in education, employment or training.

Stephen said: "Our priority is to give these young people new confidence, new skills and new opportunities."


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14 November 2006
IT'S NEVER OK TO CARRY A KNIFE.

A CRACKDOWN aimed at taking blades off the streets for a new generation of Scots was launched yesterday.

The Executive want everyone - families and friends - to challenge the notion that it's normal for youngsters to carry knives.

And police have warned that there will be zero tolerance to anyone caught with a weapon.

The £600,000 battle against the blade will include a massive advertising campaign on radio, newspapers, buses and poster sites.

And roadshows with the slogan "Let's Not Scar Another Generation" will take the message to areas where blade crime has been worst.

More than 12,500 weapons were handed in during a knife amnesty in the summer.

But Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said: "Tackling knife crime requires action on a range of fronts.

"We know that enforcement alone cannot solve Scotland's knife culture. We need to challenge the idea that knife carrying is acceptable.

"Those who do should see this as a wake-up call because they are sleepwalking into danger. Today's campaign highlights the work which is already being done to rid Scotland's streets of this problem, while challenging the idea that children need to grow up in a society where knife carrying is normal.

"We all need to challenge that notion - as politicians and professionals, parents, family members and friends.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, head of the violence reduction unit, said: "We have been making concerted efforts to tackle knife carrying and we will continue this enforcement until those who think such behaviour is normal learn that it is not.

"There can be no excuse for carrying a knife and the minority who do should be aware of the consequences.

"If you carry a knife for protection, that means you intend to use it to stab someone and that's not acceptable. There are individuals who bear the visible scars of violence.

"Less visible, but just as corrosive, is the effect violence has on communities around Scotland."

The eight-week campaign will feature images such as a baby's face set against words from concerned family members.

They include the boy's brother, who regrets being involved in knife crime and bears the scars, but is hopeful for a better future for the baby.

The roadshows kicked off yesterday in Govan, Glasgow.

Today, the campaign moves to Cathcart Square in Greenock, Renfrewshire, from 9am to 5pm.

Details of roadshow events will be announced locally.


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18 November 2006
PUPILS KNIFED IN RACE ATTACK  

TWO teenage asylum seekers were stabbed in a school race hate attack.

The Algerian boys, both 17, went to help an Afghan boy - also from a family of asylum seekers - who had been set upon by a gang of about 15 white youths.

It is believed one was stabbed in the leg and the other knifed in the back.

The attack took place as the teenagers left Drum chapel High School, in the west of Glasgow, at 3.40pm on Thursday.

Both were taken to Glasgow's Western Infirmary.

One has a suspected punctured lung. Hospital staff last night said his condition was stable.

The other boy was treated for his injuries and released from hospital later on Thursday.

Locals say racial tensions have been running high at the school recently.

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, has been looking after the boys' families and believes the attack was racially motivated.

She said: "Drumchapel High School has had its fair share of incidents lately and racial tensions have been at the forefront.

"But these boys have been there five years and been an important part of the school community.

"They are also strongly involved in our anti-deportation campaign and are known to be peacemakers within the school.

"They always stick up for the downtrodden and try to calm any trouble.

"When these boys saw that a younger child was being beaten, they couldn't just sit back and watch.

"The police have told us they have film footage of the incident and we are hoping they will soon be able to catch the culprits."

Strathlcyde Police refused to comment on whether the incident was being treated as a racially aggravated attack.

Drumchapel High, in Kinfauns Drive, has 694 pupils and was one of five Glasgow schools designated to take asylum seekers in 2000.

Last year, it won an Executive Schools For All Award for its success in integrating pupils from various religions and cultural backgrounds.


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Anger as Jamieson vows parents will be held to account...

CATHY Jamieson, the justice minister, came under fire from family groups last night after calling for a crackdown on parents who cannot control their children.

She said parents with "setbacks" in their lives were not excused from responsibility for the behaviour of their children, and that parents who are having difficulties but fail to use support services "must be held accountable".

Ms Jamieson said she could not understand why no parenting orders - which enable local authorities to fine and even imprison those who fail to ensure their children behave - have been issued in the two years since they were introduced.

At a conference in Dunblane yesterday, Ms Jamieson said:

"Bringing up children is difficult, I know that as a mother myself, but we have provided substantial funding to help improve parenting skills. Those that refuse to take these up must be held accountable. That's why we brought in parenting orders."

But support groups criticised the justice minister's comments, saying many parents did not have access to services to help them address their problems.

Kelly Bayes, the head of policy at the Aberlour Child Care Trust, said parenting orders should only be used "as a last resort".

"I would question whether there really is the range of services out there that will meet the needs of parents of adolescents, parents experiencing alcohol and drug addiction and domestic abuse," she said.

Judith Gillespie, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: "The Executive seems to be taking a very penal approach. It's almost like they want to lock parents up and make them attend parenting classes."

HELP IN THE CLASSROOM

A SCHEME to tackle classroom indiscipline and reduce antisocial behaviour outside school gates was launched yesterday.

Larbert High School and Braes High School, Falkirk, are piloting the project, which encourages unruly pupils to face up to their actions and address the underlying reasons for them.

The £80,000 service is being organised by the charity SACRO. Richard Hendry, its co-ordinator, said:

"There is plenty of evidence that simply excluding a pupil from school for a few days doesn't improve behaviour."

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Increase in area's youth offences
Youths - generic
The report said youth crime detection had improved
Angus has seen a rise in youth crime over the past year, according to an official report.

A total of 2,004 offences were committed in the region in 2005-06, compared with 1,322 in 2004-05.

The Angus Youth Justice Forum said the rise follows improved rates of crime detection among young people.

The forum's report also stated that Children's Reporters received more than 800 police referrals over the last year in relation to 1,300 offences.

Despite the overall rise, there was a drop in certain types of youth crime.

Persistent offenders

Assaults and vandalism fell, although theft, crimes of dishonesty and breaches of the peace increased.

Robert Peat, chairman of Angus Youth Justice Forum, which comprises social work, health and emergency professionals, said plans were in place to further address the problems of youth disorder, including tough proposals to tackle hardcore offenders.

"While there has been an increase in the number of persistent offenders in Angus, we consider this reflects the increase in the number of young people detected having committed an offence," he said.


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25 November 2006
SCHOOL LEAVING AGE IS GOING UP TO 18...

PUPILS in Scotland are to be kept at school until they are 18 under radical education reforms.

Jack McConnell has come up with the plan to end the scandal of Scotland's army of idle teenagers.

Under the reform, only those who have a proper full-time job with training, a college course or recognised voluntary work would be allowed to leave at 16.

The First Minister has already appointed a senior education adviser to work on the proposals.

Although the reform is at a very early stage, it is understood McConnell wants the new schoolleaving age to be in place by 2012.

It will be one of the biggest shake-ups in Scottish education since the early 1970s, when the leaving age rose from 14 to 16.

The problem of the huge numbers of idle teenagers who leave school with poor qualifications and no real hope of a good job has been under consideration for some time.

They are known as NEETS - kids aged 16 to 19 who are "not in employment, education or training".

Many of them currently drift into long-term benefit dependency and crime.

There are 30,000 NEETs in Scotland, giving the country one of the highest rates in the developed world.

Of those, 20,000 are thought to have little chance of getting a good job straight from school.

McConnell's new adviser will look at the practical measures which will be needed to put the plan into action.

It would require changes to the Education Act, which dates back to 1962.

That set the present leaving age of 16 - but it took 10 years to implement the change.

McConnell's target of 2012 means the new proposals have a much more ambitious time-scale. But the Executive may decide they have to implement it in stages, possibly by raising the age to 17 first.

Officials are confident schools will be able to cope.

With growing numbers of kids staying at school anyway to sit Highers and with exemptions for those taking up apprenticeships and training, they believe as few as 10 extra students will stay on at a typical high school.

The FirstMinister is expected to announce the move in his speech to the Scottish Labour Conference in Oban today.

An insider said: 'This isn't about forcing people to stay in school. It is about encouraging them to stay in education and training beyond 16 if they do not have a proper job or real volunteering to go to."

The move is part of a wider plan drawn up by the Executive to boost career chances for teenagers.

Labour have already pledged to set up new Skills Academies, where youngsters will be able to learn the basics of a trade while still at school.

Grants to encourage kids to stay on at school, known as Education Maintenance Allowances, were recently expanded to include 17-year-olds.

And the grants, which pay up to £30 a week, may be extended further in line with a new schoolleaving age.

McConnell will make education the theme of his keynote speech today. He has already signalled that he intends to lay out plans to make the Scottish education system the best in the world.


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Reply with quote  #44 

Keeping kids in schooltill they are 18 doesnt seem such a bad idea, its getting them to go that would be the problem, kids at that age are very rebelious and the last thing they want is to be told what to do.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJOHNSTONE

Keeping kids in schooltill they are 18 doesnt seem such a bad idea, its getting them to go that would be the problem, kids at that age are very rebelious and the last thing they want is to be told what to do.

I know Cj its hard enough as it is these days as it is eh?


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