UIndy Educational Leadership grads lead innovative program to turn around struggling IPS school

When the Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School launches in July, University of Indianapolis Educational Leadership graduates will be at the helm of transformational change.

From left: Principal Ross Pippin, Assistant Principal Anuja Petrinuw and Director of Academics Dana Stockton

From left: Executive Director Ross Pippin, Director of Operations Anuja Petruniw and Director of Academics Dana Stockton

The near east side school – also known as IPS School 15 – will become an Innovation Network School, a model that puts the school administrators in direct control of the school’s structure, staffing and performance, with input from parents.

Innovation Network Schools are permitted to make choices about all aspects of their school and are held accountable by IPS for agreed-upon student outcomes. US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos singled out Indiana’s Innovation Network Schools initiative in a speech earlier this year to the Council of the Great City Schools. 

“This type of proposal gives everyone in the community a greater say—and greater responsibility—in the education of their children. It’s this kind of local control that we want to empower, because when parents are in charge, students benefit,” DeVos said.

Thomas D. Gregg Elementary (IPS School 15). Photo courtesy IPS

Thomas D. Gregg Elementary (IPS School 15). Photo courtesy IPS

Three of the key players behind Thomas Gregg’s story honed their leadership skills at the University of Indianapolis. Executive Director Ross Pippin ’13 and Director of Operations Anuja Petruniw ’14 are graduates of the University of Indianapolis’ iLEAD program, which prepares future school leaders with crucial field experience, decision-making skills and mentorship from leaders in education. Director of Academics Dana Stockton is a graduate of the MBA in Education Leadership program, an interdisciplinary program which combines best practices in business and education leadership.

The decision to adopt the Innovation Network School model follows years of low test scores and an “F” rating from the state in 2016.  Pippin said School 15’s transformation has been in the works for nearly two years, with IPS and Near East Side neighborhood organizations playing important roles.

“We truly believe the implementation of our community-led efforts here at Thomas Gregg will provide students and families with a truly personalized experience. Seeing that Ms. DeVos believes this model is as innovative as we do is exciting,” Pippin said.

Innovation Network Schools: A short history

The Indiana legislature passed a bill in 2014 allowing the creation of Innovation Network Schools, which are fully autonomous and operate within school districts across the state. The goal is to turn around chronically low-performing schools before they require a takeover by the State of Indiana (required by law after four years of an “F” grade). IPS now features ten Innovation Network Schools, which offer different types of learning opportunities and models to students, Pippin said.

We are just extremely thrilled,” Petruniw said. “The idea of being able to impact kids in an innovative, different way is amazing to me.”

While Innovation Network Schools are managed by an outside source, such as charter schools or non-profit organizations, they are considered part of their designated school district. Pippin said that structure allows for increased educational experimentation and creativity to solve fundamental issues currently facing school systems, including low test scores.

Petruniw said what sets School 15 apart is the focus on personalized learning, as well as resources and support for the social and emotional well-being of students and their families. “We really are borne out of the neighborhood,” she said, adding that more than 400 community members got involved in the discussion.

UIndy’s Educational Leadership programs in action

As they prepare for the July launch, Pippin, Petruniw and Stockton credit their field experience as students in the University of Indianapolis’ Educational Leadership programs in providing them a valuable growth opportunity.

“Any skills that you can imagine we developed at UIndy have been put to the test in recent months: budgeting, curriculum planning, hiring, marketing. Our time at UIndy also provided the three of us with long lists of colleagues and mentors who have been more than willing to help us out along the way as we navigate this project,” Pippin said.

“Being able to think outside the box about different educational models – we’re putting that into practice now,”Petruniw added. “We researched and developed a whole new school model with the collaboration of our neighborhood.”

John Somers, associate professor of teacher education, said it’s no surprise to see these Educational Leadership graduates effecting change in local schools, “given their standout scholarship in the principal preparation program and their successful execution of numerous field experiences. We are thrilled to see these experiences translate into real benefit for children and families within IPS.”  

Learn more about UIndy’s Educational leadership programs here.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.

Poverty Simulation provides eye-opening perspective for students

Students from a variety of health disciplines learned firsthand recently the challenges faced by low-income families in a Poverty Simulation held on the University of Indianapolis campus.

Public Health students, in conjunction with the physical therapy program, participate in a Poverty Simulation on May 23, 2017. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis

The Poverty Simulation, organized by Anne Mejia-Downs, associate professor, and Julie Gahimer, professor, Krannert School of Physical Therapy, serves as an introductory activity to the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) Service Learning Course. DPT students were joined by PT assistant, nursing and public health graduate and undergraduate students for the event. 

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UIndy master’s program builds community leadership through public art

It’s early on a Friday evening in May – before the crowds arrive at the Tube Factory in the Garfield Park neighborhood – and Big Car CEO and co-founder Jim Walker is talking about the powerful role the arts have in transforming and building communities.

Art is not just something you see in a gallery or museum, said Walker, whose expertise lies in social practice and placemaking, a type of art that leverages community assets to create public spaces that promote health, happiness and well-being.

“Instead of making a piece of art that’s an object, we’re making things happen,” explained Walker, who brings that vision to a new, one-year intensive program at the University of Indianapolis. The new master’s program in Social Practice Art, which is unique for Indiana, prepares students to become community leaders by leveraging the power of the arts. 

Jim Walker, co-founder of Big Car, will teach courses in Social Practice Art at UIndy starting in the fall of 2017.

Jim Walker, co-founder of Big Car, will teach courses in Social Practice Art at UIndy starting in the fall of 2017.

Developed by Jim Walker and Kevin McKelvey, associate professor of English, the program connects students with degrees in art & design, theatre, dance, music or creative writing with community stakeholders to engage in social practice and creative placemaking. The result is a participatory art form that empowers and transforms communities, and one which has been gaining in popularity in recent years. Walker and McKelvey will oversee the program, which is still accepting applications for the fall of 2017.

The vibrant atmosphere of the Tube Factory provides the perfect backdrop to talk about the University’s MA in Social Practice Art program, as it represents an example of social practice art in action. The formerly vacant 12,000-square-foot building on Cruft St. has been renovated into a welcoming space where the Big Car arts collective, founded by Walker in 2004, hosts cultural events and partnership-based community meetings.

Related: Big Car launches affordable home ownership program for artists

Walker pointed out the value of bringing art to underserved neighborhoods and giving residents an outlet to voice their opinions. The program will also focus on grant writing, social entrepreneurship and community sociology.

The Tube Factory on Cruft St. Photo courtesy Big Car.

The Tube Factory. Photo courtesy Big Car.

“Art and culture are important elements of everybody’s lives, so the kind of art that we’re working on here actually seeks out input from community members. When they’re invited to participate, it’s a way to show people that art isn’t some kind of exclusive thing. In that way it can help make a difference for the community,” Walker said.

In many ways, Walker’s new role at the University is a logical extension of Big Car’s south side success story. Walker, who lives in the Garfield Park neighborhood, is a well-known community builder on the Indianapolis arts scene. He has taught art history at the University of Indianapolis and art and writing at other area universities. Big Car held its ten-year anniversary exhibition at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center in 2014.

The Social Practice Arts program builds on several of the University’s community-partnership initiatives, including the Quality of Life plan for the Indianapolis south side, and the Gene and Mary Ann Zink Poverty Institute, a University initiative to end poverty driven by an evidence-based and outcome-oriented strategy.

Making a difference in local neighborhoods will be a key focus of the program. Students will have the opportunity to work at Big Car’s Tube Factory, where they can learn to manage arts-related events and encourage community involvement. “This is a really good laboratory for students to learn in, get off campus and get involved. The connection between UIndy and our space is a pretty important one,” Walker added.

McKelvey explained that the multidisciplinary approach of the program combines with the University’s service-learning focus to attract artists who want to give back to the community. The program will embrace community involvement and prepare students to effectively lead and engage community leaders in projects that have a broad impact on the quality of life.

“From cities to smaller communities, these ideas around placemaking and social practice are really starting to take hold,” McKelvey said.

Learn more about UIndy’s Social Practice Arts Program here.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.

Research events highlight UIndy-Community Health Network partnership

The University of Indianapolis held the first annual Health Pavilion Scholarship Day in May to showcase research conducted by students and faculty in the health sciences disciplines. Held in tandem with the Community Health Network Research Symposium on campus, the events highlighted the growing partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Community Health Network.

UIndy students show research posters in the atrium of the Health Pavilion as part of the first annual Health Pavilion Scholarship Day hosted by the Health Science Colleges on Friday, May 19, 2017. The event was followed by the Second Annual Multidisciplinary Scholarly Activity Symposium held by Community Health Network with UIndy partnership support. Chad Priest, RN, JD, Chief Executive Officer of he American Red Cross of Indiana Region, is the speaker delivering a keynote on "The Healthcare Professionals of the Future" in Schwitzer following the luncheon. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

More than 20 faculty and students showcased their research experiences  at the Scholarship Day event held in the morning, which was hosted by all of the disciplines within the Health Pavilion. In the afternoon, keynote speakers Chad Priest and Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez of Community Health Network addressed issues surrounding the health care professions at the Community Health Network Research Symposium.

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Gerburg Garmann, Paul Levesque elected to HERA Board

Gerburg Garmann, assistant dean of Interdisciplinary Studies & Service Learning, and Paul Levesque, assistant professor of Global Languages & Cross-Cultural Studies, were elected to the Humanities Education and Research Association (HERA) Board in March 2017. 

Paul Levesque

Paul Levesque

Gerburg Garmann

Gerburg Garmann

HERA, which holds an annual conference in the United States and publishes a refereed scholarly journal three times per year, promotes the worldwide study, teaching and understanding of the humanities across a range of disciplines. Its mission includes supporting the application of the humanities to the human environment in a way that reflects the country’s diverse heritage, traditions, history and current conditions.
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University of Indianapolis Real Estate Development program sees early success

A new program that is the first of its kind in Indiana is already making its mark.

The University of Indianapolis launched a Masters of Professional Studies in Real Estate Development in the fall of 2016, becoming the first university in the region and state to offer the program.

MPS in Real Estate Development program director, Eric Harvey

MPS in Real Estate Development program director, Eric Harvey

Program Director Eric A. Harvey, who was recently appointed to the position, said students who enroll are seeking to become entrepreneurs in real estate as they advance their careers. Courses include ethics and problem solving, finance, capital markets, real estate development law, development and construction systems, project management and sustainability, with a capstone course that allows the student to frame their professional goals. The program was recently highlighted by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

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Study finds living in a state with weak gun laws could increase risk of being shot by police

A new study from the University of Indianapolis published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that citizens living in states with the weakest gun laws are more than twice as likely to be fatally shot by law enforcement. 

Aaron Kivisto

Aaron Kivisto

Aaron Kivisto, assistant professor in the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, conducted the research along with doctoral student Peter Phalen, in collaboration with Brad Ray, assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. The American Journal of Public Health published the study, “Firearm legislation and fatal police shootings in the United States,” on May 18, 2017.

Kivisto, lead author of the study, said the research utilized data on fatal police shootings in the United States from “The Counted,” a database developed by U.K.-based newspaper The Guardian. That data, compared with the state gun law rankings from the The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, showed citizens from states with weaker gun laws are significantly more likely to be killed by law enforcement, according to the study.

Researchers examined more than 2,000 fatal police shootings that occurred between January 2015 and October 2016. The study considered differences across states in rates of gun ownership, violent crime and other socio-demographic characteristics.

The study found that, while laws strengthening background checks appeared to support this effect by reducing the overall number of guns in the community, laws aimed at promoting safe storage and reducing gun trafficking helped to prevent guns already in the community from falling into the wrong hands.

“What’s really striking is that the laws that seem to be driving this effect – closing background check loopholes, requiring that parents protect their kids from finding their guns in the home – are the types of laws that large majorities of Americans support. These aren’t particularly controversial laws, and this study, along with many before it, suggests that they can save a lot of lives,” Kivisto said. “These findings also seem to highlight the challenges created for law enforcement by states that have neglected to enact common-sense gun laws supported by most citizens.”

The research group emphasized the need for a comprehensive system to track fatal police shootings nationwide.

“Currently, the only serious monitoring system for police violence in our country is the media itself, rather than the government or police,” Phalen said.

While policy efforts targeting police practices represent one strategy, these findings show strengthening state-level gun laws as a potential tool for reducing rates of fatal police shootings in the United States, Kivisto said.

*Kivisto, A.J., Ray, B., & Phalen, P. (2017). Firearm legislation and fatal police shootings in the United States. American Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303770

 

UIndy forensics crew returns to Texas for migrant identification initiative

For the past four years, a forensics team from the University of Indianapolis has traveled to Texas to exhume and conduct forensic analyses on the remains of migrants who died making the treacherous journey into the United States. forensicscrew

The group not only carefully digs and recovers the remains from unmarked gravesites, but it also works with Texas State University on identification of the bodies. The initiative highlights a humanitarian crisis as bodies continue to be found in small counties with no resources to identify them, said Krista Latham, an associate professor of biology who leads the group.

Latham traveled this month with four graduate students to Texas to analyze the dead and work to recover additional remains from unmarked gravesites. This is the sixth trip Latham has led to the area.

“Students are immersed in a humanitarian crisis where people are dying in mass disaster numbers due to the environment and exposure while crossing our southern border. It provides them with invaluable humanitarian and global citizenship experience. They learn about the complexities of border policies and the realities of thousands of people who are not as privileged as themselves in terms of the expectation of freedom from personal violence,” Latham said.

UIndy graduate student Leann Rizor

UIndy graduate student Leann Rizor

During the first week of the trip, the University team will work with Dr. Kate Spradley of Texas State University on the analysis of unidentified individuals exhumed from Sacred Heart Cemetery in Brooks County, Texas, during the 2013, 2014 and 2017 archeological field seasons. The following week, the forensic crew will then volunteer in Starr County, Texas, to locate and exhume the remains of undocumented migrants who died after crossing the border and were buried in pauper’s graves without identification.

Latham’s work has received local and national media coverage and most recently was the focus of an interactive New York Times report. The group will be documenting their activities in the Beyond Borders blog.

With the U.S. Border Patrol reporting more than 6,000 deaths during illegal border crossings between October 2000 and September 2016, Latham said her work serves a crucial need to identify those who perished on the journey.

“There is a need for forensic experts to identify these individuals and provide their families with information on their fate,” Latham explained. “The dead are mostly South Americans that are fleeing systematic violence that is unimaginable to most people living in the US. We are volunteering a very specialized skill set to counties that have been overwhelmed with deaths that are in mass disaster numbers.”

“In the process, we are also able to bring awareness to the crisis at the border and work to promote social responsibility and humanitarianism as a response to the migrant death crisis,” Latham added.

The project provides numerous opportunities for Latham’s students as they apply their classroom skills in a real-world setting, including scientific skills honed in the University’s human biology program such as skeletal analysis, photography and archeology. Even more importantly, Latham said, students develop an understanding of the complex social, cultural and political realities involved in the work.

Haley Rock, a graduate student in human biology and field expert, is one of the graduate students in the group. She appreciates the experiential learning aspect of the project that allows her to gain a better understanding of human osteology and forensic anthropology.

“This humanitarian work is important to me because it allows me to take part in reuniting family members with their lost loved ones, as well as bring to light the unjust treatment individuals may have faced in their lives,” she said.

“I hope to gain a broader cultural perspective and understanding of the migrant situation that is currently going on in South Texas. Being in the midst of the humanitarian crisis that is occurring in Texas will likely impact me in a way that I cannot even begin to predict,” graduate student Erica Cantor said.

Both Latham and her team acknowledge the challenges of the project, which include working in the South Texas heat, as well as processing their emotions as they work to ease families’ pain in the midst of an untold humanitarian crisis.

“These students are not only learning scientific skills they could never learn in a classroom, but they are being empowered by their actions to promote a sense of common humanity. They are applying their liberal arts and sciences training towards the social responsibility of humanitarianism as a crisis response,” Latham said.

Follow the team’s updates here.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.

UIndy May trips send students around the globe

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El Camino de Santiago, Spain

From Spain to Costa Rica, University of Indianapolis students are traveling the globe this month on experiential learning trips guided by faculty. Students will be visiting destinations in Europe, including France, England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, and Austria, along with visits to less traveled corners of the world, including Ecuador, Cuba, Costa Rica, Ghana, Haiti and the Galapagos Islands. Another group is traveling to Japan. 

The trips serve to expand the education of University students by opening them up to new cultures and international experiences, which can have a profound impact on their future lives.

A group of students, including 13 members of the Ron & Laura Strain Honors College, is embarking on a walking pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago across northern Spain to the Tomb and Cathedral of St. James. The group is led by University Chaplain Jeremiah Gibbs, Jim Williams, associate professor of history and Honors College executive director, along with Frank Bates, assistant professor in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy and Kelly Miller, director of the Student Counseling Center.

The journey will take the group 21 days as they walk through 100 towns and villages in Spain, including Leon, Astorga, Ponferada, Compostela and Madrid. They will have the opportunity to interact with Spanish villagers and some of the 250,000 annual pilgrims from around the world.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our students, to take a Spring Term trip together with funding support from the Strain Honors College.  Some of them are setting out on this journey as a formation of their spirituality, like pilgrims have been doing since the Middle Ages; some are going for the deep culture, history and language exposure they’ll find in Northern Spain; others are looking forward to the adventure and the physical challenge,” said Williams.

UIndy students are following the footsteps of Christians who have been making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela for 1,200 years.  “My hope and dream is that all of them will be profoundly transformed by the time we arrive in Santiago de Compostela, some 165 miles after we take that first step together,” Williams added.

Julie Kiefer, the University’s study abroad director, notes that Spring Term trips continue to grow in popularity as students take advantage of experiential learning in a foreign country. worldmap_springterm

“Any major can study abroad, and there are so many programs to choose from. The May trips allow students to get a taste of life overseas, and some of them go on to participate in semester or year-abroad programs,” Kiefer said.

Jennifer Camden, associate professor of English, will lead a group of 18 students through Edinburgh, Scotland’s historic sites, Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye and the Highlands, York and London.

Kyoko Amano, professor of English, will guide a group of students on a trip through Japan. That includes a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima Castle, the National Peace Memorial Hall and lectures.

Jodie Ferise, assistant professor of business administration, is taking students to Ghana for the sixth time since 2011. Past projects have included opening a kindergarten and junior high school, a computer lab and several libraries. This year’s project will fund the construction of a school in the village of Papaase, Ghana, thanks to a generous donor.

Becca Cartledge is continuing her tradition of leading nursing students on a trip to Haiti. Follow their progress here.

Other trips include:

  • Costa Rica, led by Julie Kiefer, the University’s study abroad director
  • Ecuador, led by Kathleen Hetzler and Shannon Moore, assistant professors of nursing
  • France and Spain, led by Peter Vakunta, assistant professor of French and Francophone Studies
  • England and Austria, led by Sharon Parr, associate professor of music
  • Germany, Czech Republic and Austria, led by Milind Thakar, associate professor of international relations, and Paul Levesque, assistant professor of German
  • Cuba, led by Terrence Harewood, associate professor of teacher education
  • Galapagos, led by Douglas Stemke, associate professor of biology, with Sandra Davis, associate professor of biology and Kevin Gribbins, assistant professor of biology

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.

Faculty-student collaboration spotlights increased sex trafficking in Indiana

A study at the University of Indianapolis focuses on the growing problem of sex trafficking in Indiana.

The research project conducted by Lisa Elwood-Kirkpatrick, assistant professor in the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences, and doctoral student Samantha Goodin, received national recognition earlier this year when Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) highlighted their efforts in collaboration with the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH) initiative. 

Lisa Elwood-Kirkpatrick, assistant professor in the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences

Lisa Elwood-Kirkpatrick

Elwood-Kirkpatrick is a clinical psychologist who has served on IPATH’s outreach and victim services committees, as well as on the board of Restored, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that works toward long-term services for human trafficking victims. She and Goodin worked with IPATH in 2014 to survey service providers, including therapists and caseworkers who work with high-risk youth. The goal was to estimate the rate of trafficking experiences in provider caseloads.

Preliminary findings from the study, presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Conference in the fall of 2015, revealed that 25 percent of the 76 survey completers had previously participated in training specific to human trafficking. Results indicated that while participants routinely assessed some common risk factors for human trafficking, such as sexual abuse, less than half reported routinely assessing experiences of sexual trafficking. After being provided with a definition of sex trafficking, approximately one-third of participants indicated they had worked with at least one youth in the past year who had experiences with sex trafficking. Data collection is complete and the manuscript is being prepared for publication.

The 2016 Indiana State Report on Human Trafficking, which is prepared by the Indiana Office of the Attorney General, includes data from the University of Indianapolis survey. The report documents the rising problem of human trafficking across the United States, including Indiana. One statewide IPATH partner reported 178 trafficked youth in 2016 alone, 94 percent of whom were girls under 21. The Indiana attorney general’s office reports four times as many tips of suspected human trafficking between 2014 and 2016.

“There’s been an increase in identification and awareness of the need here in Indiana over the past few years,” said Elwood-Kirkpatrick.

Sex trafficking occurs when someone forces an individual to engage in a sex act in exchange for something of value and takes the profit from that exchange. In the case of minors, force or coercion does not need to be used in order for the incident to be considered as sex trafficking. Victims do not need to be transported anywhere for sex trafficking to occur. In fact, someone can become a victim without leaving their own home, Elwood-Kirkpatrick said.

Ultimately, it’s a supply and demand problem, Elwood-Kirkpatrick said. “As long as there are people interested in the service and willing to pay for the service, the problem is going to continue,” she explained. “As a society, we have to start being aware of the demand side of it and increasing awareness for those potential purchasers of sex.”

Elwood-Kirkpatrick and Goodin see potential to apply their research findings to alleviate the problem of sex trafficking. Identifying potential victims is the first step toward rescue and treatment. Service providers can achieve that goal by carefully assessing trauma history, while recognizing that victims of sex trafficking tend to enter the mental health or juvenile justice system for other reasons.

“There is increasing interest in the issue of sex trafficking but not very much research yet, and so we hope that our study helps to better define the problem and potentially inform efforts to address it,” Goodin said.

Goodin, in the fourth year of her doctoral program in clinical psychology, appreciates the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on original research. She will spend her final year of the program working as a full-time intern at a college counseling center. “In applying for my internship, it was very helpful to be able to talk about this work as part of my experiences at UIndy,” Goodin said.

The IPATH survey is just one example of the statewide impact of University of Indianapolis research. Elwood-Kirkpatrick also is contributing to a study that examines treatment outcomes for post-traumatic stress disorder. That study involves nearly 50 community members, some of whom will receive therapy on campus as they work through interpersonal violence issues.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.

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