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In 1993 the U.S. Department of Education funded Project Target, a research study primarily designed to develop a health-related, criterion-referenced physical fitness test for youngsters (aged 10-17) with disabilities. Specifically, the purpose was to recommend test items and standards for youngsters with mental retardation, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, blindness, congenital anomalies, and amputations. The project was centered at the State University of New York, College at Brockport. A total of 1,542 youngsters with and without disabilities were tested and data associated with several projects analyzed as a part of the comprehensive Project Target. The Brockport Physical Fitness Test (BPFT) was created as a result of activities associated with Project Target.

The BPFT includes a number of unique features. First, in an effort to personalize testing and assessment, the battery includes 27 different test items. However, a complete battery for one individual or category of disability generally includes four to six items. Second, it applies a health-related, criterion-referenced fitness approach to youngsters with disabilities. Third, it provides an approach based on health-related needs and a desired fitness profile. Finally, many of the test items are new (or at least nontraditional) and include a larger number of youngsters with disabilities in a physical fitness testing program than previously reported in the literature.

Test Construction

The process to select test items and standards included identifying and selecting health-related concerns for a youngster or a specifically defined group, establishing a desired personalized fitness profile, selecting components and subcomponents of physical fitness to be assessed, selecting test items to measure selected components, and selecting health-related standards to evaluate physical fitness.

A major criterion for selection of test items and standards for the BPFT was validity. In this regard it was necessary to establish a framework for health-related physical fitness. Once this framework was determined, test items and standards were selected on the basis of logic, a review of literature, and data deemed relevant to validity.

A second criterion for selection of test items was reliability. All the test items recommended in connection with the test are believed to be reliable. Data in the literature regarding the reliability of test items and additional data supporting test item reliability were collected as part of Project Target. Detailed information related to validity and reliability is presented in the technical manual associated with the Project Target final report (Winnick & Short, 1999) and in connection with Fitness Challenge Software (Short & Winnick, 1999).

A third criterion for the selection of test items and standards was extent to which test items could be used for different classes of youngsters. Preference was given to test items and standards which could be applied to non-disabled youngsters, as well as youngsters with disabilities, and appropriate tests of physical fitness designed for the general population. In particular, test items associated with the FITNESSGRAM (CIAR, 1992; CIAR, 1999) were selected so the BPFT could be easily coordinated by users of that test.

The fourth criterion in selecting test items was to find items which were believed to measure different traits or abilities, but encompassed the orientation of physical fitness used for this test. This was done so that each item in the test adds new information about the youngster.

Secondary criteria were, to the extent possible, to select test items reasonably familiar to physical educators, economical in terms of time and expense, and feasible to administer in field situations.

Conceptual Framework

The framework for developing the Brockport Physical Fitness Test is represented by Figure 1. This schematic, modified from a model described by Bouchard and Shephard (1994), enhances understanding of how test items and standards were selected. Relationships among physical activity, health-related physical fitness, and health depicted in the paradigm are discussed in the following paragraphs.


Physical Activity

Physical activity consists of any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscle resulting in a substantial increase over resting energy expenditure (Bouchard & Shephard, 1994). Although categories of physical activity can also include work and domestic chores (Shephard, 1994), in the BPFT, focus is on two categories--physical education and leisure time activity. Subsets of these two categories are shown in the schematic--exercise, sport, training, dance, and play. These types of physical activities can be performed in different patterns as dictated by frequency, intensity, and duration variables. In the Brockport approach, the primary role of physical activity is related to the conditioning benefit it provides in developing health-related physical fitness.


Health has been defined as a "human condition with physical, social, and psychological dimensions, each characterized on a continuum with positive and negative poles. Positive health is associated with a capacity to enjoy life and to with stand challenges; it is not merely the absence of disease. Negative health is associated with morbidity and, in the extreme, with premature mortality" (Bouchard & Shephard, 1994, p. 84).

In the Brockport paradigm, health is conceived of consisting of two general constructs--physiological health and functional health. Physiological health is related to organic well-being of the individual. Indices of physiological health include traits or capacities associated with well-being, absence of a disease or condition, or low risk of developing a disease or a condition. Appropriate levels of body composition and aerobic capacity are examples of indices of good physiological health. Functional health is related to physical capability of the individual. Indices of functional health include ability to perform important tasks independently, and ability to sustain independently the performances of those tasks. Ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), ability to sustain physical activity, and ability to participate in leisure activities are examples of indices of good functional health. Both physiological health and functional health contribute to one's capacity to enjoy life and to withstand challenges; both provide indices of health serving as bases for health-related physical fitness standards.

Health-Related Physical Fitness

In the Brockport Physical Fitness Test, health-related fitness refers to those components of fitness affected by habitual physical activity and related to health status. It is defined as a state characterized by (a) an ability to perform and sustain daily activities and (b) demonstration of traits or capacities associated with a low risk of premature development of diseases and conditions related to movement (modified from Pate, 1988).

Health-related components of fitness adopted for this test include aerobic functioning, body composition, and musculoskeletal functioning. Aerobic functioning is a term encompassing both aerobic capacity (maximum oxygen uptake) and aerobic behavior (ability to perform aerobic activity at specified levels of intensity and duration). Body composition provides an indication of degree of leanness/fatness of the body (usually percent body fat). Musculoskeletal functioning is a component combining measures of muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility/range of motion. Combining these elements speaks to their relationships, especially when programming. Improving range of motion of a joint in a youngster with a disability, for instance, may require improving extensibility of the connective tissue in the agonistic muscle while improving strength of the antagonistic muscle. The Brockport definition of health-related physical fitness is consistent with the definition of physical fitness advanced by Caspersen, Powell, and Christenson (1988). These authors indicated physical fitness was a set of attributes people had or achieved related to ability to perform physical activities.

Personalized Approach

The Brockport Physical Fitness Test (BPFT) was developed on the basis of a personalized approach regarding physical fitness testing and assessment. The personalized approach was used to design a test for one individual or for a group of persons exhibiting the same or similar health-related concerns. Following development of an orientation to health-related, criterion-referenced physical fitness and a corresponding definition of physical fitness (as described above), steps presented below were followed for personalizing the test--

* Identify and select health-related concerns of importance to the youngster.

* Establish a desired personalized fitness profile with (or for, as necessary) the youngster.

* Select components and subcomponents of physical fitness to be assessed.

* Select test items to measure selected fitness components and subcomponents.

* Select health-related criterion-referenced standards to evaluate physical fitness.

Test Items and Standards

Test Items

Components of physical fitness associated with the BPFT include aerobic functioning, body composition, and musculoskeletal functioning. Each of these may include specific subcomponents or areas which can be selected for a personalized physical fitness test. A total of 27 test items are included in the BPFT (see Table 1) and are grouped with test components. Many test items in the battery might be considered traditional. Other items might be considered nontraditional and have either been adopted or developed to meet abilities of youngsters with selected disabilities (see sidebar, page 26). The actual number of test items administered to one youngster, or group of youngsters, is personalized and generally includes four to six test items. Samples of test items are presented in the pictures throughout this article.

Table 1

Components and Test Items on the Brockport Physical Fitness Test
Aerobic Functioning Body Composition
PACER Test (20 m) Skinfold Measures
PACER Test (Modified 16 m) Body Mass Index (BMI)
Target Aerobic Movement
 Test (TAMT)
One-Mile Run/Walk

Musculoskeletal Functioning
Muscular Strength/Endurance Flexibility/Range of Motion
Trunk Lift Back Saver Sit and Reach
Dominant Grip Strength Shoulder Stretch
Bench Press Apley Test (Modified)
Isometric Push-up Thomas Test (Modified)
Push-up Target Stretch Test (TST)
Seated Push-up
Dumbbell Press
Reverse Curl
Push/Walk (40 m)
Wheelchair Ramp Test
Curt-up (Modified)
Extended Arm Hang
Flexed Arm Hang
Pull-up (Modified)


Once test items have been selected to measure components and subcomponents of physical fitness, standards are selected to serve as bases for evaluating fitness from a health status orientation. Standards are expressed as either general or specific (see Tables 2 and 3 for examples). A general standard is one associated with the general population. It is a test score related to either functional or physiological health and attainable by youngsters whose performances are not significantly limited by impairments. A specific standard also reflects functional or physiological health, but has been adjusted in some way to account for effects of a specific impairment upon performance. General standards may be recommended for the general population, as well as youngsters with specific disabilities. Specific standards are only provided for selected test items for specific target populations.

Table 2

[VO.sub.2max], One-Mile Run/Walk, 20 m PACER, 16 m PACER and Target Aerobic Movement Test General Standards

 [VO.sub. One
 2max] Mile 20m 16m
 (ml/kg/ Run/Walk PACER PACER
Age min) (min/sec) (# laps) (# laps) TAMT(1)

 M P M P M P M M

10 42 52 11:30 9:00 17 55 25 Pass
11 42 52 11:00 8:30 23 61 33 Pass
12 42 52 10:30 8:00 29 68 40 Pass
13 42 52 10:00 7:30 35 74 48 Pass
14 42 52 9:30 7:00 41 80 55 Pass
15 42 52 9:00 7:00 46 85 61 Pass
16 42 52 8:30 7:00 52 90 69 Pass
17 42 52 8:30 7:00 57 94 75 Pass


10 39 47 12:30 9:30 7 35 13 Pass
11 38 46 12:00 9:00 9 37 15 Pass
12 37 45 12:00 9:00 13 40 20 Pass
13 36 44 11:30 9:00 15 42 23 Pass
14 35 43 11:00 8:30 18 44 26 Pass
15 35 43 10:30 8:00 23 50 33 Pass
16 35 43 10:00 8:00 28 56 39 Pass
17 35 43 10:00 8:00 34 61 46 Pass

M = Minimal P = Preferred

(1) Scored as pass/fail. Youngsters pass when they sustain moderate physical activity for 15 minutes.

(2) Adapted, with permission, from Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, 1992, FITNESSGRAM, (Dallas, Texas: Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research).

Table 3

[VO.sub.2max] and PACER

Specific Standards for Youngsters with Mental Retardation Males

 [VO.sub.2max] (20m) (16m)
Age (ml/kg/min.)(1) (# laps)(2,3) (# laps)(2,3)

10 38 4 9
11 38 10 16
12 38 16 24
13 38 21 30
14 38 27 38
15 38 33 45
16 38 38 57
17 38 44 59


10 35 1 5
11 34 1 5
12 33 1 5
13 32 4 9
14 31 6 11
15 31 12 19
16 31 17 25
17 31 22 31

(1) Specific standards associated with a 10% downward adjustment of [VO.sub.2max] from minimal general standards; however, the lap standards for 10- and 11-year-old girls represent a slightly higher [VO.sub.2max] value than shown here.

(2) Laps for the 16 m are based upon estimates from 20 m PACER lap scores.

(3) 16m laps = 1.25 (20m laps) + 3.8, S.E. = 7.4. 20m laps = .71 (16m laps) - .87, S.E. = 5.5. 20 m lap values are approximately 63% of 16 m lap scores.

If the type of standard is general, teachers typically have two levels of standards from which to choose--minimal and preferred. A minimal standard is considered an acceptable score. It meets the lowest acceptable criterion of health associated with a particular test. Most youngsters should be able to attain the appropriate minimal standard provided. A preferred standard is meant to convey a higher level of fitness and is, therefore, more desirable. A preferred standard represents a good level of fitness, and is one most youngsters will find challenging. In a few instances a single general standard, rather than minimal or preferred general standards, is recommended and provided. In such instances, the single standard is associated with a good and preferred level of fitness.

If a standard is either not available for a particular test item or believed to be inappropriate for a specific youngster, testers are encouraged to develop individualized standards by which to assess performance. An individualized standard is a desired level of attainment for an individual in an area of health status, established in consideration of the present level of performance and progress toward a specific or general health-related standard. It may not necessarily reflect a health-related standard.

Sources of Standards

Standards recommended in connection with the Brockport Physical Fitness Test come from a variety of sources. Several criterion-referenced health-related standards appropriate for the general population and, at times, recommended for youngsters with disabilities were taken from Prudential FITNESSGRAM (CIAR, 1992). These included standards for the following items--VO2 max, one-mile mn/walk, 20 m PACER, skinfold, percent body fat, body mass index, curl-up, trunk lift, push-up, pull-up, modified pull-up, flexed arm hang, back saver sit and reach, and shoulder stretch.

FITNESSGRAM standards for the VO2 max, one-mile run/ walk, and 20 m PACER came from the work of Cureton (1994) who provided data linking critical VO2 max values to disease risk in adults and translated those values to one-mile run and PACER test scores of youngsters. Standards associated with skinfold and body mass index measures from FITNESSGRAM have been derived primarily from the critical percent body fat values linked to cardiovascular risk factors in boys and girls provided by Williams and colleagues (1992). These critical values were subsequently translated by Lohman (1994) into skinfold and BMI test scores for youngsters. Standards associated with the remaining musculoskeletal test items in the Prudential FITNESSGRAM were based on expert opinion following a review of normative data associated with nondisabled youngsters (Plowman & Corbin, 1994). These included standards for the push-up, pull-up, modified pull-up, flexed arm hang, trunk lift, curl-up, shoulder stretch, and back saver sit and reach.

Standards associated with all Prudential FITNESSGRAM test items were adopted for use as general standards in the BPFT. Where appropriate, healthy fitness zone standards associated with the FITNESSGRAM became minimal and preferred general standards in the Brockport approach. Standards reflecting performance of the general population on items not associated with the Prudential FITNESSGRAM were developed on the basis of data collected on 913 youngsters from the Brockport Central School District (Winnick & Short, 1998). Minimal and preferred standards related to performance of the general population in connection with the dumbbell press, 35-1b bench press, extended arm hang, grip strength, and isometric push-up were based, in part, on these data.

As with developers of Prudential FITNESSGRAM, developers of the BPFT relied heavily on expert opinion in setting or adopting criterion-referenced standards. For the BPFT, expert opinion was provided by an advisory committee comprised of leading professionals in exercise science, measurement, and adapted physical activity. In addition to consulting on standards described in the previous paragraphs, general standards for the Apley Test, Thomas Test, Target Stretch Test (TST) and Target Aerobic Movement Test (TAMT) were derived primarily with input from the advisory committee.

Specific standards were also based upon expert opinion, related literature, and data collected involving samples of youngsters with disabilities. Specific standards are used only when general standards associated with a recommended (or optional) test item for a youngster in a particular disability group require adjustment due to nature of the disability. Data collected as a part of Project Target were used to field-test suitability of test items, reliability, and attainability of standards related to 35-1b bench press, extended arm hang, flexed arm hang, modified curl-up, grip strength, isometric push-up, seated pushup, reverse curl, 40 m push/walk, modified Apley & Thomas Tests, 16 m and 20 m PACER, and one-mile run/walk. Data associated with Project UNIQUE (Winnick & Short, 1985) were also consulted in selecting standards for flexed arm hang, grip strength, and skinfold measures. Recommended specific standards for youngsters with mental retardation were developed following particular consultation of data provided by Eichstaedt, Polacek, Wang, and Dohrman (1991); Hayden (1964); and the Canada Fitness Award (Government of Canada Fitness and Amateur Sport, 1985). Standards associated with TST were based on optimal levels of range of motion presented by Cole and Tobis (1990) and functional standards were recommended by the Project Target Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee, 1997).

Using the BPFT with Other Tests

Youngsters with disabilities are often able to perform one or more of the same test items as youngsters in the general population. Teachers in inclusive settings, for example, are encouraged to administer the same test items from their regular test battery to both youngsters with and without disabilities when appropriate. There may be times, however, when test items or standards may need to be different for a youngster with a disability. In these circumstances the BPFT can serve as a reference which can be used by a teacher to fill-in gaps which exist in a testing program for a particular youngster. Teachers who use the FITNESSGRAM (CIAR, 1999) as their regular test battery will find it relatively easy to substitute items and/or standards from the BPFT because of similarities existing between the two tests. Regardless of which test a teacher uses, however, the BPFT can be used as a resource for personalization. As another option, those teaching both students with and without disabilities may wish to adopt the Brockport Physical Fitness Test as a single test that can be used with the general population, as well as with youngsters with disabilities.

IEP Development

Teachers should recognize that the BPFT is consistent with requirements for developing an individualized education program (IEP) for students with disabilities. Profile statements reflecting unique needs (with modifications as necessary) can be viewed as annual goals for the student's physical fitness levels. Test scores obtained by a youngster can serve as entries under the present level of performance section of the IEP. Standards (either general or specific) can be used as guidelines for determining annual goals, setting objectives, and providing criteria for evaluating physical fitness.


The BPFT may be used to meet needs of a variety of youngsters with unique needs. This section presents sample scenarios including a desired profile, test items to be administered, and results for a female with a spinal cord injury and a male who is blind.

A Glance at Selected Nontraditional Test Items

Target Aerobic Movement Test--Youngsters engage in any type of activity that will elevate their heart rates into target heart rate zones and attempt to maintain those elevated heart rates for 15 continuous minutes.

Seated Push--up Participants who are wheelchair users (paraplegia) attempt to lift their buttocks and posterior thighs off the seats of their wheelchairs by pushing up from arm rests or tires of chairs with their hands and arms. An alternative is to lift the buttocks off a mat using seated push-up blocks.

Isometric Push--up Students attempt to hold the up position for the push-up for a given period of time. (The test is most appropriate for youngsters who do not have muscular strength and endurance for traditional push-ups or who cannot learn traditional push-up technique.)

40-Meter Push/Walk--Youngsters with certain mobility problems attempt to cover at least 40 meters in 60 seconds while maintaining a low heart rate (i.e., below moderate-level intensity).

Wheelchair Ramp Test--Children and adolescents in wheelchairs try to negotiate a standard ANSI ramp.

Target Stretch Test--Youngsters demonstrate their maximum movement extents for a variety of single joint actions (e.g., wrist extension, shoulder abduction, elbow extension, forearm supination) and testers estimate extent of movements from pictorial criteria.

Reverse Curl--Participants with some forms of quadriplegia (spinal cord injury) attempt to lift a 1-lb weight with tenodesis grasp and elbow flexion.

Thomas Test (Modified)--Ambulatory students with cerebral palsy lie supine on a table and pull one knee to the chest while tester evaluates length of opposite hip flexors by observing any lift present in the opposite leg.

Scenario #1

The first scenario relates to Billy, an 11-year-old boy who is blind.

Desired profile. In an individualized education meeting it was agreed that Billy should possess, at minimum, a level of maximal oxygen uptake and body composition consistent with positive health; appropriate flexibility of the lower back; levels of abdominal and upper-body strength; and endurance adequate for independent living and participation in various physical activities.

Test items. Consistent with the desired profile for Billy, the following test items were selected and evaluated--20--PACER, body mass index, curl-up, push-up, trunk lift, and back saver sit and reach.

Results. As indicated on Form 1, Billy meets preferred general standards for body composition and musculoskeletal functioning (including muscular strength and endurance, as well as flexibility/ range of motion). Since Billy does not meet specific or general standards related to aerobic capacity, a unique need is exhibited for this subcomponent of physical fitness. Subsequent training activities, therefore, should focus on the improvement of Billy's aerobic functioning.

Scenario #2

The second scenario pertains to Mary, a 15-year-old with a spinal cord injury. She has paraplegia and uses a wheelchair for activities of daily living.

Desired profile. In consultation with Mary and her parents it was agreed that, at minimum, she should possess the ability to sustain moderate physical activity; have a level of body composition consistent with positive health; possess levels of flexibility and range of motion to perform activities of daily living and to inhibit contractures; possess muscular strength and endurance to lift and transfer the body and push her wheelchair.

Test items. Consistent with the desired profile for Mary, the following test items were selected, administered, and evaluated--the target aerobic movement test, sum of tricep and subscapular skinfolds, seated push-up, bench press, and modified Apley Test for both right and left arms.

Results. As indicated on Form 2, Mary meets relevant standards for aerobic functioning, body composition, and strength and endurance. Because she did not meet general standards for the modified Apley Test, however, it is recommended that her physical education program include personal goals related to upper body flexibility.

Selected References

Advisory Committee (1997). Meeting of the Project Target Advisory Committee, Brockport, NY. (April 18-19).

Bouchard, C., & Shephard, R.J. (1994). Physical activity, fitness, and health: The model and key concepts. In C. Bouchard, R.J. Shephard, & T. Stephens (Eds.), Physical Activity, Fitness, and Health International Proceedings and Consensus Statement (pp. 77-86). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Caspersen, C.J., Powell, K.E., & Christenson, G.M. (1988). Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: Definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Reports, 100, 126-131.

Cole, T.M., & Tobis, J.S. (1990). Measurement of musculoskeletal function. In F.J. Kottke & J.F. Lehmann (Eds.), Krusen's Handbook of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (pp. 20-71). Philadelphia: Saunders.

Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research (CIAR). (1992). The Prudential FITNESSGRAM Test Administration Manual. Dallas: Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research.

Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research (CIAR). (1999). FITNESSGRAM Test Administration Manual. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Cureton, K.J. (1994). Aerobic capacity. In Morrow, J.R., Falls, H.B., and Kohl, H.W. (eds.) The Prudential FITNESSGRAM Technical Reference Manual (pp. 33-55). Dallas, TX: The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research.

Eichstaedt, C., Polacek, J., Wang, P., & Dohrman, P. (1991). Physical Fitness and Motor Skill Levels of Individuals with Mental Retardation, Ages 6-21. Normal, IL: Illinois State University.

Government of Canada, Fitness and Amateur Sport. (1985). Canada Fitness Award: Adapted for Use by Trainable Mentally Handicapped Youth--A Leader's Manual (rev. ed.). Ottawa, Ontario: Government of Canada, Fitness and Amateur Sport.

Hayden, F.J. (1964). Physical Fitness for the Mentally Retarded. Toronto: Metropolitan Toronto Association for Retarded Children.

Lohman, T.G. (1994). Body composition. In Morrow, J.R., Falls, H.B., & Kohl, H. W. (eds.). The Prudential FITNESSGRAM Technical Reference Manual (pp. 57-72). Dallas, TX: The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research.

Pate, R. R. (1988). The evolving definition of fitness. Quest, 40: 174-178.

Plowman, S.A., & Corbin, C.B. (1994). Muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility. In J.R. Morrow, H.B. Falls, & H.W. Kohl (Eds.), The Prudential FITNESSGRAM Technical Reference Manual (pp, 73-100). Dallas: Cooper Institute of Aerobic Research.

Shephard, R.J. (1994). Aerobic Fitness and Health. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Short, F.X., & Winnick, J.P. (1999). Fitness Challenge Software. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Williams, D.P., Going, S.B., Lohman, T.G., Herska, D.W., Srinivasan, S.R., Webber, L.S., & Berenson, M.D. (1992). Body fatness and risk for elevated blood pressure, total cholesterol and serum lipoprotein ratios in children and adolescents. American Journal of Public Health, 82, 358-363.

Winnick, J.P., & Short, F.X. (1985). Physical Fitness Testing of the Disabled: Project UNIQUE. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Winnick, J.P., & Short, F.X. (1998). Project Target: Criterion-Referenced Physical Fitness Standard for Adolescents with Disabilities. Final Report. Project No. HO23C30091-95. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. U.S. Department of Education. Brockport, NY: Department of Physical Education and Sport. State University of New York, College at Brockport.

Winnick, J.P., & Short, F.X. (1999). The Brockport Physical Fitness Test Manual. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Winnick, J.P., & Short, F.X. (1999). The Brockport Physical Fitness Test Training Guide. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Winnick, J.P., & Short, F.X. (1999). The Brockport Physical Fitness Test Video. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Joseph P. Winnick is a Distinguished Service Professor at the State University of New York, College at Brockport. He Served as director of Project Target, the five-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to develop this health-related criterion-referenced physical fitness test for youngsters with disabilities.

Francis X. Short is Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Physical Education at the State University of New York, College at Brockport. Dr. Short served as coordinator of Project Target.
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