Let litter into education!

Education should be characterised by a positive belief in the future and give all children the opportunity to acquire an ecological and caring approach to their surrounding environment and to nature and society. Education should give children an understanding of how people, nature and society affect each other, and also of how different choices people make in everyday life can contribute to sustainable development. To put litter into the curreclicum will give children the opportunity to learn about the environment and the role they can play in improving it. I believe that a concrete and important environmental issue such as littering is a good pedagogical starting point in learning for sustainable development. Educating students about the effects of litter and influencing attitudes are key steps towards behaviour change and litter reduction in the community as a whole.

Sustainable Development Goal 11

Littering is not a small problem!

Littering is a huge environmental threat one can witness in all urban areas. Streets, sidewalks, parking lots, roads and highways are mostly covered with food wrappers, soft drink and water bottles, plastic bags, handbills, cigarette butts, tissues, papers etc. Litter affects the environment negatively and the major impacts involve the danger to public health,endangering, or killing wildlife and serious damage to waterways, oceans and marine life. Based on recent data, 7 billion tons of debris enter the world’s oceans annually and most of it is long-lasting plastic. Litter also has an impact on the economy, The Clean Europe Network estimates that the total cost of cleaning up litter on the land throughout the EU is somewhere in the range of €10-13 billion.

Education is one of the most effective tools when it comes to shaping the future.

Our youngest generation are the future, so it is extremely important that we encourage good habits in children from a young age. It is essential that we educate our children on the importance of reducing litter and waste. Preschoolers and very young children can be educated about not leaving rubbish behind and throwing things away responsibly – and of course, most toddlers will love the ‘responsibility’ of being given ‘grown up’ tasks to carry out!

What can we do?

  • Set up a Clean School or Preschool program at your school or preschool together with the students, to change the littering behaviour in the school.
  • Children can be encouraged to create posters which they can put up around school or preschool also in corridors, classrooms,staff rooms and in the local community. The posters could encourage everybody to dispose of their litter correctly.
  • You can let the children come up with their own litter slogans.
  •  Raise public awareness regarding litter, by letting the students making a ”This is a Litter Free Zone” sign to be displayed outside the school.
  • Plan litter picking activities in and outside of your School-Preschool frequently.
  • Have recycling bins in every room, including staff rooms, kitchen and also outside on the yard. Recycling introduce students to the three environmental R’s recycle, reuse and reduce and also to a circular economy. Label recycling and waste bins clearly to avoid the waste getting mixed up. The students can help to make labels to the bins.
  • Let all students become Litter-free Ambassadors to take the message home to their siblings, parents and grandparents.
  • Initiate programmes like” Adopt a place, a park or street” in the neighbourhood and the staff and the students can spend some compulsory hours every week doing community work to clean up the area.
  • Integrate conversations about the environment into everyday lessons.
  • Make sure your school-preschool has completed a Risk Assessment and a Risk Assessment Form. The Risk Assessment is to make sure the health, safety and welfare of the students has been considered and that all reasonable precautions and controls are in place to a litter pick up activity.

Litter is a topic that addresses a real world issue!

Keeping their schools-preschools and neighbourhood litter-free is an easy and fun way for students to work together, a hands on experience that teaches them responsibility skills and gives a respect for the environment and the world around them. It also encourages children to take pride in their school and neighbourhood.

All children deserve a future without litter!

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In the head of an International Vocational Teacher or

my view of education for childminders in nurseries, daycares, creches, preschools and home child minding.

The General Objective of eduction must be to provide students with knowledge of the tools that are relevant to their profession, both in the public and private sectors, such as nurseries, daycares, creches, preschools and home child minding and other areas of activities, relating to professional work with children aged between 0-6.

Education’s Contents should be as a powerful box of tools for child pedagogy work, where the tools give students good conditions to fulfil and develop the social missions of their areas of activities, as well as develop a clear professional identity. Contents should focus on: developing the understanding for a “big picture” approach which includes nurture and teaching, where governing documents are the starting point for the content and where assignments are based on a didactic point of view; working with the well-rounded development of children; the pedagogue’s importance to the environment and the material where the learning environment is dependent on the pedagogue’s knowledge, awareness and approach.

The eduction subjects should not be limiting, instead, it should be integrated with each other in an interdiscipinary approach. An integration will provide students with an overall picture of the profession and its work methodologies. Democratic core values, where the students’ input, experience and needs will impact on the contents and form one part of the way knowledge is imparted. Teaching should build on collaborative learning, peerlearning, problem and case study methodologies, story lines and projects, both large and small, of an interdisciplinary nature. Reviews should be presented to the entire class, so that everyone can participate in various ideas and solutions, but also to provide an opportunity for discussions, feedback and the solidification of knowledge and theories.

The work methodology should build on a distributed teaching approach. Education should strike a balance between individual and group assignments. Individual assignments should be produced based on the group assignments, so that students can internalise them using their own ways of thinking. The eduction should be run in a contextual learning environment, a social arena, where facts, understanding and abilities are developed and where active participation and creativity form one of the conditions for the learning processes.

The education’s structure should be designed around progressive thinking such that the foundation knowledge, abilities and attitude that develop at the start of the education are built on throughout the education in order to provide students with a professional identity, competency for the area of activity and personal development.

On Job Training periods has a huge impact the on the students learning and understanding, The theories and subject knowledge will be strengthened by concrete and practical experiences where students learn under guidance. On Job Training periods provide students with the chance to develop professional skills and the ability to reflect.

The eduction’s working objectives should be to make students employable by provide the knowledge, tools and abilities for a child pedagogue’s work relating to goals and guidelines in the area of activities’ practices.

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How to raise a future environmentalist?

The answer is = Outdoor play.

Frequent, unstructured childhood play in natural settings has shown to be the best influence to develop of life-long conservation values.The world’s environmental problems are increasing and it is important to raise a future generation , who has positive views of nature and are willing to take action to protect it. But a lot of children today spend more time indoors and are more or less  disconnected  from the natural world and it is has a huge impact on their health, development and knowledge about nature. The disconnection between children and nature are one of the most pressing and overlooked crisis in our time. 

Physical activities from early age is particularly relevant if we consider the growth of children’s obesity worldwide, but also prevent heart disease and other health issues later in life. This is maybe the generation that will have a shorter life expectation, than their parents. 

Natural environments and outdoor play are beneficial to children in many ways:

  • children who regularly play in nature show higher motor control—including balance, than children who mostly play indoors
  • develop capacities for creativity, symbolic play, problem solving and cognitive and emotional development.
  • which in turn develops language, social skills, abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills
  • reduce stress and promote relaxationchildhood play in nature lays thefoundation for an interest in taking care of the environment later in life
  • helps children form a bond to nature

Helping Children to form an emotional attachment to nature may be the key to protect our planets future.

Temporary visits to nature in a diverse range of settings, from zoos to national parks, will probably not foster bonds with nature. If we want future generations to bond and fall in love with nature, outdoor play must have high priority in children’s everyday activity, especially during the childhood years.

To give children environmental education for sustainability at early age, with hands-on experience innature is more important than ever. Outdoor play promotes a relationship with the natural environment provides an environmental knowledge and ecological understanding of the world. The future will need ecological literate adults who are able to recognize common plants, animals and interpret what they see in nature. Let children be active learners, small children benefit from active hands-on discovery learning opportunities.

Let children play in the mud, pick flowers, climb trees, collect natural items.

Let children plant and grow vegetables and flowers. To care for a plant teaches children responsibility and respect for all living. When gardening there is a myriad of topics and scientific concepts children will discover. What does plants eat? How do plants drink water? Why do they need the sun? Do they breathe? They will learn about the life cycles of plants photosynthesizes and much, much more. Planting, growing and caring for plants teaches children everything, from basic skills to bigger concept of life.

Let children take part in composting activities. Composting helps children to understand how the environment works, nature’s way of recyclingand the life cycle. Composting activities also introduced children to the three environmental R’s recycle, reuse and reduce.

Let children meet the tiny creatures, that are critical players on this planet, as pollinators and helpers in nature and gardens. Bees, butterflies ladybugs, ants, snails, slugs, beetles, sow bugs, millipedes etc.  Children will discover, that even the smallest animal has an important role in our eco system.

Teach children the Four Ls about living creatures:

  • Look at them
  • Learn about them
  • Let them go
  • Leave them alone

Educate children not to leave rubbish behind and throwing things away in the environment. As adults we must help children understand the damage litter can do, to wildlife and the environment We need to be good row models and practice environmental good manners. Children don’t do as we say, they do as we do!

Shall we teach children about the destruction of the rainforest, global warming endangered species dying off ? “No” saysLouise Chawla Researcher and Professor in Environmental Design “of course it is important for adults and even teenagers to become aware of such problems and issues, but many environmental problems are just too abstract and complex for young children who still believe in Santa Claus.”

No-one will protect what they don’t care about and no-one will care about what they have never experienced.

Sir David Attenborough

*An environmentalist can be considered a supporter of the goals of the environmental movement, “a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activity. Wikipedia

Free downloads of outdoor activities

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Toy Libraries a sustainable solution!

A lot of used toys can be found in toy bins across the globe, waiting to be sent to the landfill. Because there is where the most of used toys end up.     It is estimated that 10 million toys end up in landfills every year globally. 

Plastic toys are a recycling challenge.  90 percent of toys manufactured today are made from plastics or plastic components and they are also often composed of other materials too, such as metals. The recyclable components can’t be separated out, and therefor they get prohibited from recycling centers.

But luckily, the toy libraries have come to the rescue and give used toys a second chance.

What is a Toy Library?

A Toy Library is similar to a traditional library; toy libraries provide resources for play, including toys, games, trained staff and dedicated space.Toy Libraries are open to everybody children and adults, institutions, organizations A toy library is a service that provides the opportunity for shared play and/or the loan of toys and games. A toy library can be operated by individuals, charitable organizations, local, regional or national governments. Toy libraries, can be seen as community resource, offering information, guidance and support to members in addition to the loan of toys and games. Some Toy Libraries also offers play sessions.

A membership is needed, some membership comes with a small fee some not or you donate a used toy to the library.

Every toy library is supervised by a toy librarian. The librarian’s responsibilities is to check toys out and back in, encourages safe, cooperative play among the children. Sometimes, they also join into the children’s activities. Another responsibility is to maintaining the library’s toys. Whenever a toy is checked back in, it needs to be checked for damage to ensure that it’s still safe to play with. Toys that are damaged or broken need to be repaired. All toys must be clean and disinfected, particularly toys for young children before putting the toys back in circulation again.

There are also mobile Toy Libraries that travels on wheels, from neighborhood to neighborhood. Children can come and play and also borrow toys when the toy library arrives.

Benefits of Toy Libraries:

  • Financial Benefits Borrowing toys from a toy library, parents can spend less money on new toys and reduce consumption .Children from low income families get access to more toys..
  • Environmental Benefits. When a lot of children can share one toy instead of each having their own, less new toys need to be produced, which saves resources and energy. Younger children can continue to play with the toys that older ones have outgrown, less old toys will end up in landfills.
  • Social Benefits.Toy libraries provide a safe place for children to meet and socialize with other children. They can learn important social skills like, sharing, and taking turns. Toy Libraries also weakening the social differences between children,
  • Education. Children of all ages learn by playing.
  • Help for Children with Special Needs. Many toy libraries offer specially adapted toys for children with disabilities.
  • Toy libraries advocate quality, well-made toys with excellent play value to ensure that the toys in their loan collection are long lasting and sustainable.
  • Children learn the values of solidarity and sharing from an early age.
  • Toy Libraries ensure that children from low income families have access to toys.
  • Toy Libraries give access to toys and play for all children in a community.
  • Children become a part of shared economy and a reuse habit from an early age.

There are Toy Libraries in Europe, USA, Asia, Oceania and Africa.

Toy Libraries provide a wide range of toys for their members and therefor also reducing waste and environmental impact!

Funding of Toy Libraries is mostly generated from grants and donations. Toy Libraries rely on voluntary help from community citizens for repairs of toys, toy donations etc. Some also uses out placed containers where people can donate used or outgrown toys.

Containers and toy libraries are an excellent example of the importance of reusing items, a concept promoted in the European Commission’s Waste Management Strategies. Preventing waste is the first and most important step in the overall waste management.

                                     Be sustainable. Borrow toys!

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Educational Toys ?????

The Toys Directive defines toys as goods designed and intended for use by children under the age of 14. Most researchers have also agreed that there are no educational toys, it is about how they are used in play and whether they contribute educationally or not to children’s learning.

Mr.Krister Svensson, Director of the International Toy Research Centre in Stockholm has gone a step further “I question the whole concept of an educational toy,’” he said. ‘”Toys don’t teach cognitive or motor skills; they just encourage children to practice them.”

What has been found through research and various studies is that open ended material is most educational.  Open ended materials means, material that is not finished and that can have several uses. These toys are the ones that contribute most to interaction and dialogue and also to development.

Open-ended materials have multiple uses and limitless possibilities, there are no rules to follow, no expectations, no specific problems to solve and no pressure to produce a finished product. Children can create a purpose for open ended toys and use it as they wish. In contrast to, closed-ended material, that has a determined outcome, a not right answer or right way to complete and finish. The single-function closed-ended toys become boring very quickly; they don’t encourage creativity, imagination, or problem-solving abilities.Simple toys offer more learning opportunities to children than complex toys and the more ways a child can play with a toy, the more he will learn.

To choose sturdy, high quality, long lasting open-ended toys are more cost-effective and sustainable, open-ended toys does not diminish; the play is simply reinvented by children.

Examples of open ended play material:

Bricks included Lego and Duplo for construction play. Develops children’s  hand eye coordination, early math and engineering skills through hands on learning, spatial awareness,improves fine motor skills, problemsolving, phantasy, creativity, social skills, language and science.

Material for role play and imaginary play like pretend kitchens with utensils, dolls, soft toys, dress up clothes, doll houses, material for different kind of profession plays like shop, bakery, hairdresser etc, help children process the world around them and encouraging, language development. Social  and emotional abilities are developed as children role-play with “what-if” possibilities they also learn empathy, cooperation  problem solving, and leadership skills through make-believe play.

Art supplies such as paper, crayons, markers, paints, and scissors glue, tape, loose parts etc. Develop fine motor skills, increases dexterity, improves hand-eye coordination, boost self esteem, encourages self expression, socializing and language, promotes innovation,creativity and phantasy, enhances decision-making skills.

Sand and sandboxes are good, both for construction and pretend play. Shovels big and small, buckets, small pots etc.

Outdoor play and outdoor equipment like balls, swing ropes, hula rings, climbing opportunities etc. exercise children’s big motor skills, coordination, balance, prevent obesity, relief stress and increase physical activity. The outdoor material can also be used as props in pretend play outside.

Loose parts are any collection of natural or manmade objects that can be used into children’s play. There are seven types of loose parts are:-Nature Based -Wood Reuse -Plastic –Metal Ceramic/Glass -Fabric/Ribbon –Packaging

But children also need some close ended ( close-ended toys have a clear ending point ) material like jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Jigsaw puzzles develop concentration, spatial awareness, shape recognition, hand and eye coordination, problem solving, language, memory and social skills.

Board games like Lotto, Card games, Dice Games etc. develop children’s fine motor skills, cognitive skills, social skills, taking turns, problem-solving, controlling emotions, winning and losing, patience, following rules and working together.  Children also learn colour recognition, numbers and counting, shape recognition, image and word recognition, pattern identification, and matching and memory skills.

Accessories as small play people, animals, and transport vehicles etc. accessories are important in play especially in dramatic play and block/construction play. Accessories stimulate language, interactions, creativity and fantasy.

As “facilitators of play” we need to

  • provide inspiring indoor and outdoor play environments, they are an opportunity for learning
  • provide stimulating and attractive materials to enhance and entice children into play.
  • carefully consider age and developmental levels in the design of the play areas and in the selection of materials.
  • organize the material so it is easy for children to overview.
  • inspect the material on regularly basis.
  • remove broken play material, broken materials even can be dangerous to play with. especially for small children.

The more ways a child can play with a toy, the more he will learn.”

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Loose parts and reuse a cost effective and sustainable option in child care centers.

Nature is filled with some of the best “toys” that can be offeredto children and as adults we also throw away a lot of manmade things that can enrich in and outdoor play. Things we believe is rubbish are the best play material children can get.

Loose parts are any collection of natural or manmade objects that can be used into children’s play. The loose parts are supporting invention, divergent thinking, problem solving, creativity and phantasy. They are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.

Loose parts is an open ended resource, which means that it has multiple uses and limitless possibilities, there are no rules to follow, no expectations, no specific problems to solve and no pressure to produce a finished product. Children can create a purpose for open ended material and use it as they wish. Open ended materials stimulate and empower children’s creativity, imagination and fantasy and they can be used in play in many ways. Researches have also showed that open ended material is the most educational material for young children’s learning and development. To use loose parts, together with open ended bought play material both indoor and outdoor will enrich children’s play and craft/art in childcare centers.

The seven types of loose parts are:-Nature Based -Wood Reuse -Plastic –Metal Ceramic/Glass -Fabric/Ribbon –Packaging.

The theory of “loose parts” was first proposed by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970’s and has influenced child-play experts and the people who design play spaces for children in a big way.

The stick may be the world’s oldest toy Children find sticks an endless source of make-believe fun. Sticks can turn into swords, magic wands, majorette batons, fishing poles, and light sabers. When children pretend with sticks, they cultivate their creativity and develop their imaginations. They explore as they search outdoors for just the right one. Children build with sticks, bat balls with them, and walk with them. They are the original building blocks for creative play. The stick was inducted to the National Toy Hall of Fame 2008

Never underestimate the power of a stick.

To promote the use the ecofriendly material that nature offers and to reuse man made material instead of throwing it into the garbage bin is both a cost efficient and sustainable option.

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Languge is the Key!

To read aloud to children I early years is an investment in children’s  future!

A child’s language develops in interaction with others. Therefore it is important that parents and close relatives stimulate the child’s language development by talking, narrating, reading and singing.

It is important to read to children already from birth. The time before children can talk themselves, is the most important time for language development. Thanks to being read to early in life, children get to hear more words, varying texts and experience dialogue inspired by books. Research shows that the age of the child when you start to read to him or her is of great importance for the child’s later language skills. During the children’s two first years of life, the brain, and especially the language centre, is growing a lot. This means that the child is more receptive to developing its language. 

Reading often – having a fixed routine for reading – is also important. To regularly speak with and read to babies from birth, already at 12-months old children will understand more words than children who are not read to. At 2-years-of-age, children will have a larger and more nuanced vocabulary than those children who are not read to. Research shows that the more words the babies hears, the more words they will use in the future. Children, who have been read to a lot already from birth, have heard many million more words when they are four years old, compared to children who did not have the same experience. Studies show that it is difficult to close this gap later in life. This means that during the first three years of the children’s lives, reading aloud to them can give the children the best foundation for further learning.

Sessions of reading aloud can create an interest in books and reading for pleasure.

It should be a right for all children to listen to reading aloud, as this can help children exercise their vocabulary, comprehension, empathy and fantasy. When a text is being read aloud, children can meet many words that they never have the chance to meet in everyday conversation. This important for their future language development.

Excerpts from Playtime Seychelles publication “The Importance of the Mother Tongue for Children’s Education and Intellectual Development and the Importance of reading aloud to children for their language development”

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Why children need to be reconnected with nature!

Children that have many opportunities to play and discover nature will get knowledge about all that are living and growing, they will understand our living conditions better. Nowhere is so much to discover, to play with, as in nature and nowhere can children get so much knowledge about their own living conditions, as they can in small piece of wild nature. Experiences in nature give a feeling of responsibility to nature and animals, all that is living. No environment is so full of play material, as the nature. Nature gives children a maximum of space to run, jump climb, role, spin to a minimum of prohibitions and restrictions. In nature children’s big needs of movement, knowledge, interaction and thrill are fulfilled. Throughout history nature play has happened automatically during childhood, but today that kind of play, that has been a cherished part of childhood for so many generations is endangered.

Many more people live in cities and suburbs today, where access to wild spaces appropriate for children’s play often is very limited. More and more children today have less and less contact with the natural world and it that has an enormous impact on their health and development.

Does the loss of childhood nature play really matter? During the early childhood years children need opportunities to get out and explore nature without predetermined activities or objectives. Researches show that natural environments and outdoor play are beneficial to children in many ways. Playing outdoors is important for developing capacities for creativity, symbolic play, problem solving and intellectual development.

Outdoor and natural play increases children’s

  • Gross motor skills
  • Eye and hand coordination
  • Coordination
  • Problem solving
  • Balance
  • Concentration
  • Reduce stress
  • Prevents obesity

The importance of physical activities from early age is extremely relevant if we think about the growth of children’s obesity worldwide. Physical activities in childhood also prevent heart disease, diabetes and other health issues later in life.

The Benefits of outdoor and natural play give children skills that will be needed  in the future.

  • Cognitive development
  • Creativity
  • Fantasy
  • Imagination
  • Social development
  • Emotional development
  • Collaboration

Time spent outdoors increase physical activity, healthy development and overall wellbeing.

The world’s environmental problems are increasing and it is important to raise citizens who have positive connection to nature and are willing to take action to protect itFrequent, unstructured childhood play in natures has shown to be the best influence to develop life-long conservation values. Childhood play in nature lays the foundation for an interest in taking care of the environment later in life.#

Nature is also the ultimate resource for eco-friendly craft and art materials for children.

Nature is filled with some of the best “toys” that can be offered. Natural materials with open-ended possibilities stimulate and empower children’s creativity, imagination and fantasy and they can be used in play in many ways. Nature based loose parts can range from simple natural materials. Pieces of bark, small stones, seeds, pine cones, twigs, fallen leaves, flowers, branches, pebbles and so on.

The theory of loose parts

The theory of “loose parts” first proposed by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970’s has begun to influence child-play experts and the people who design play spaces for children in a big way. Nicholson believed that it is the ‘loose parts’ in our environment that will empower our creativity. In a play, loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.

If we want future generations to carry on the work of conservation, willing to care and protect the environment, then nature and outdoor play must be restored.

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Are Trampolines Safe?

Trampolines are great fun for children, but they often get injured on them, by wrong landings or falls, that can cause serious, permanent injuries.

Common injuries include:

  • Broken bones (Sometimes surgery is needed.)
  • Concussions and other head injuries
  • Sprains/strains
  • Bruises, scrapes, and cuts
  • The most serious injuries are head injuries from falls or damage to the spinal cord in the neck (which can lead to permanent paralysis or death.

Why children under five years old, not shall bounce on trampolines.

Children under five are not sufficiently physically developed to control their bouncing, they weigh less and also have less co-ordination to help them control landings and the fact that their bones not are strong enough to handle the impact of repetitive jumping and jumping movements, put them in a higher risk of fractures. Another risk factor is that they can bounce much higher on a trampoline due to their lightweight, that the bounce canbecome so high, that they propel over the net.

Safe trampoline use starts with adult supervision and one child on the trampoline at a time!

Safety rules

  • Children age five and under should not be permitted on a trampoline.
  • Always use safety pads, covering the frame and springs.
  • Always use a safety net enclosure.
  • Make sure that only one child, uses the trampoline at a time.
  • Jump in the center of the mat.
  • Jump with bare feet (no shoes).
  • Stand back, when someone is jumping (no sitting on the padding!)
  • Never crawl under the trampoline when someone is jumping.
  • Don’t bounce off the trampoline net.
  • Only jump when the trampoline is dry.
  • Never allow children to bounce off the trampoline. Encourage them to stop bouncing, walk to the edge, sit and slide off.
  • Keep toddlers away while the trampoline is in use.

Excerpts from Playtime Seychelles Safety Corner

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