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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month.  PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event.

Some causes of PTSD include:
  • Combat and other military experiences  
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Learning about the violent or accidental death or injury of a loved one
  •  Child sexual or physical abuse
  • Serious accidents, like a car wreck  
  • Natural disasters, like a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake  
  • Terrorist attacks
According to the National Center for PTSD, symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but may not appear until months or years later. Signs of PTSD are symptoms lasting longer than four weeks, symptoms causing great distress, or symptoms interfering with your work or home life.
There are four types of symptoms of PTSD:
  • Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms).  Bad memories, nightmares and feeling like you're going through the event again are common and called flashbacks.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. PTSD victims may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event and may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  • Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way they think about themselves and others may change because of the trauma, they may feel guilt or shame, or may not be interested in activities they used to enjoy. They might find it difficult to feel happy.
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). A person with PTSD may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger, or may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. They may become angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly).
PTSD can be treated and there are many treatment options available.  Some of those treatment options are:
  • Talk therapy
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
  • Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)
  • Medication
It is never too late to receive treatment for PTSD regardless of how long ago the traumatic event took place. Talk to someone you trust such as your family doctor, a mental health professional, your local VA facility or Vet Center, if you are a Veteran, a close friend or family member who can support you while finding help, a clergy member or fill out a PTSD questionnaire or screen yourself for signs and symptoms. If you feel you are in crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.  Other options include calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or contacting the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255.

Relax This Summer

Rest and relaxation are important to health. Everyone should relax every day to rid their body of tension and stress. This summer, consider taking time to relax, play, recharge, and reenergize. The Mayo Clinic recommends people take the necessary time to nurture their mind and body. High levels of stress over a long period of time can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Taking time to relax every day can help balance your stress levels.

Everyone has stress and everyone handles stress differently. Physical reactions to stress include tight muscles, headaches, increased heart rate and faster breathing. Emotional reactions to stress include anxiety, frustration, anger, and depression. Sometimes people are stressed so often they no longer recognize the physical or emotional signs of stress.

Real relaxation should not only happen when you are stressed, it’s deeper than that. Real relaxation calms and improves health of the body and the brain, bringing a better balance to your life. Being more relaxed helps people feel better and have a better outlook on life.

The Mayo Clinic offers the following tips for relaxing:
  • Make yourself a priority. You have permission. It’s key to your physical and emotional health and wellness.
  • Be resilient. Remember that there are many things in life you can’t control. Take action on what is within your control, and learn to let go of the rest.
  • Think about three ways you can recharge. Physically – stretch, walk, run, do yoga. Socially – connect with friends, go dancing, join an organization you believe in. Time for self – make yourself a priority, think about what will help you relax and rest as needed. How are you going to choose to recharge?
  • Make a plan. Note how you will relax when you only have five to 10 minutes. What can you do when you have 30 to 60 minutes? What about your regular, daily relaxation efforts? Consider contacting the YMCA, life coach, church or community education program for ideas and helping in learning how to relax. Schedule time for yourself – you deserve it!
Take time to discover meaning and purpose in your life as well.  What gives you joy and make you feel good? What is important to you? Take time to think about whether you spend time on activities that bring you joy and support your values or do you spend time on activities that are not important to you? When you know how to spend your time, you choose activities that make you feel good in mind, body and spirit.  Typically, these choices will make you happier overall.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends taking SMART steps for better health:
  • Specific – What are you going to do?
  • Measurable – How will you track your progress?
  • Achievable – What steps will you take to make this happen?
  • Relevant – Is this important enough to make you want to do it?
  • Time-framed – When will you do this?
Take the necessary time you need for yourself this summer to find things you enjoy and relax and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit.

Men's Health Month

June is Men’s Health Month. Men’s Health Month heightens the awareness of preventable health problems and encourages early detection and disease treatment among men and boys. This month is an opportunity for health care providers and individuals to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. The Centers for Disease Control reports in 1920, women lived, on average, one year longer than men. Now, men die almost five years earlier than women.

According to the CDC women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. Men also die at a higher rate than women from the top 10 causes of death and are victims of over 92% of workplace deaths. The top causes for death among men in the United States are heart disease, cancer, injuries, stroke and suicide. The CDC states depression and suicide is very high among boys and men, as it typically goes undiagnosed, but men are four times more likely to commit suicide. Boys ages 15 to 19 are three times more likely to commit suicide than girls that same age, and older men, ages 65 and older, are thirty times more likely to commit suicide than older women. 

In 2003, the New York Times published these interesting statistics on the difference between men and women:
  • 115 males are conceived for every 100 females.
  • Men suffer hearing loss at twice the rate of women.
  • Testosterone is linked to elevations of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and declines in HDL, the good cholesterol.
  • Men have fewer infection-fighting T-cells and are thought to have weaker immune systems than women.
What can men do to be healthier?  Eat healthy. Take small steps each day like saying no to super-sizing and yes to a healthy breakfast. Eat a variety of foods to get vitamins and minerals and add at least one fruit and vegetable to every meal. Be active. Play with your kids or grandkids, take the stairs instead of the elevator, do yard work, play a sport. Choose activities you enjoy to stay motivated. Make prevention a priority. Many health conditions can be detected early with regular checkups from your healthcare provider. Be sure to get regular screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose and yearly check-ups for prostate health, vision health, and more.

Stay On Course This Summer

Many people believe they only need to train in the gym in the winter months when it’s cold outside.  Many people give all they have to the gym the first five to six months of the year and then lose their routine during the summer months, thinking that sports and staying busy will help keep them fit. 

Research shows that we will lose our fitness gains at the same rate we gained them. And, the older we get the more effort we need to put into improving our fitness. Even getting to the gym during the summer one day a week to get in a good resistance workout would maintain your strength level.

Stay on course this summer. Consider these ideas from the Mayo Clinic that can help you move more each day:

  • Limit daily screen time to two hours or less. Most people are not active and tend to eat while using a computer or watching TV.
  • Get on your feet as much as possible. Take regular breaks to stand up and move. Walk or bike to work or try a walking meeting.
  • Be creative by having contests with friends, march in place when talking on the phone, walk virtual trails on the treadmill on a rainy day.
  • Use a pedometer to record how many steps you take. Try to average 10,000 to 15,000 steps daily. One mile is about 2,000 steps. Record your pedometer readings using an exercise log or computer program. It may motivate you to follow your plan and it challenges you to move more!
  • Be flexible with your workouts. If 30 minutes is hard to schedule, try for two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
  • Add variety to your exercise routine by switching between running and swimming for cardiovascular exercise and weight lifting and Pilates for strength.  Try summer classes for even more variety.
An exercise plan should include cardiovascular activities, strengthening exercises, flexibility exercises, and balance movements. Examples of cardiovascular activities include walking, biking, swimming, skiing, tennis and dancing. These activities should be done for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. To strengthen muscles and bones, do two 15-30 minutes resistance training sessions each week using elastic bands or weights, push-ups or abdominal curls. Flexibility exercises can be done daily and include exercises such as gentle stretching, Yoga, Tai chi, and Pilates. Yoga and Tai chi are also great for balance movement.

Exercise and regular physical activity matter. It improves fitness, flexibility, balance, strength, and bone and heart health. It boosts mood and helps control weight. It also helps prevent and control diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

It is always better to stick to and follow your routine regardless of the weather. Many well-intentioned people never end up going back to the gym and lose their motivation to start again. Don’t let that happen to you!

Create Lasting Memories at YMCA Summer Camps

The “best summer ever” is right around the corner and the Oshkosh YMCA is offering a variety of summer camps to make sure kids and teens in Oshkosh are adventurous, active and healthy this summer. YMCA camp programs offer youth fun and unique experiences with an opportunity to explore the outdoors, meet new friends, discover new interests and create memories that last a lifetime. 
Summer is the ideal time for kids to get up, get out and explore. But, for some kids summer means no access to recreational and educational activities to help them learn, grow and thrive during out-of-school time. As a result, some kids can experience learning loss and gain weight twice as fast than during the school year. Attending Oshkosh YMCA summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to keep their minds and bodies active.
“Summer camp is an excellent way to ensure kids stay engaged socially, physically, and academically throughout the summer,” says Erin Baranek, School Age Director. “In our camps, kids are in a welcoming environment where they can belong, they’re building relationships, developing character and discovering their potential. We really encourage parents to give their kids the gift of camp to keep them active and engaged all summer long.”
Baranek says there are five reasons why children and teens should attend summer camp:   
  1. ADVENTURE: Summer camp is all about a wide variety of new experiences and exploring the outdoors. YMCA camps have a new adventure for every child and teen. Visit www.oshkoshymca.org for camp details.
  1. HEALTHY FUN: Day and resident camps offer fun, stimulating activities that engage the body and mind, and also help children and teens learn the importance of nutrition to help improve their healthy eating habits. 
  1. PERSONAL GROWTH: While in the welcoming environment of camp, youth have a chance to learn new skills, and develop confidence and independence by taking on new responsibilities and challenges. Camps offer cognitive learning and social-emotional development opportunities for achievement.
  1. FRIENDSHIPS: Amidst the fun of camp games, songs, swimming, canoeing and talent shows, campers meet new friends and strengthen existing friendships. The bonds formed at camp are important and lasting for many youth.
  1. MEMORIES: Summer camp is an unforgettable experience that will give each camper memories (and camp traditions) that will last a lifetime. Youth return to school with plenty of camp stories to share!
The Oshkosh YMCA offers: Preschool Camp, Camp Winni-Y-Co, Summer Fun Club, and Summer Teen Adventure Program. Preschool Camp is a day camp for kids ages four to five and is a play-based age-appropriate camp that includes swimming, weekly fieldtrips, arts and crafts, fun interest centers, outdoor play and more. Camp Winni-Y-Co is an off-site day camp located 8 miles from downtown. The campground is 24 acres of beautiful wooded land with two miles of hiking trails, archery range, volleyball court, arts and crafts lodge, main lodge and more. This camp is open to kids ages five to 11.  Summer Fun Club is also available to kids ages five to 11, but is held at the Oshkosh YMCA 20th Avenue or Downtown locations. Kids are able to experience all the Y has to offer in this full-day program. Activities include field trips, swimming, sports, games, arts and crafts, and more. The Summer Teen Adventure Program is for teens ages 11-16. This camp offers a diverse amount of activities and events and allows teens to exercise independence and responsibility. And, to ensure that all youth have the chance to experience camp, the Oshkosh YMCA offers financial assistance to those in need. If you’re interested in helping send kids to camp this summer, you can donate to the Y at www.oshkoshymca.org.
For more information on Oshkosh YMCA summer camps, visit www.oshkoshymca.org or contact Eric Davis at ericdavis@oshkoshymca.org or Erin Baranek at erinbaranek@oshkoshymca.org.


Don't Waste a Sunday Afternoon Inside

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in children and adolescents over the past 30 years. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for a number of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers. Here in Wisconsin, 14 percent of all children are considered overweight and nine percent are considered obese, according to the CDC.
The Oshkosh YMCA offers a magnitude of healthy programs for kids this summer including soccer, basketball, martial arts, swimming, ice skating, camps and more. The American Heart Association recommends children and teens get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity every day.
There are three types of physical activity that all kids must participate in: 
  • Aerobic activity – brisk walking, running, basketball, biking, soccer, swimming, tennis
  • Muscle strengthening – gymnastics, push-ups, stomach crunches, pull-ups
  • Bone strengthening – jumping rope, running
As a community, we can help kids to be more physically active by reducing sedentary activity, encouraging children to choose activities they enjoy, being good role models, and breaking activity into two 30 minute sessions or four 15-minute sessions for the kids throughout their day.
Consider having your kids take part in the second annual Oshkosh Community YMCA Kids Mud Run presented by Aurora Health Care. The event will take place on Sunday, June 4 at 1 p.m. at the Oshkosh YMCA 20th Avenue location. This event is for kids ages four to 13. The course is approximately one-mile long and includes 14 obstacles. Registration is $20 per member and $25 per activity member and includes a t-shirt. Registration deadline is May 27. Late and day-of registration will be accepted, but t-shirt size is not guaranteed. All participants should bring a towel and change and clothes. The YMCA will not be open during the Mud Run. The event will be held rain or shine and there are no refunds. 

Top 10 Reasons your kids should participate in the 2017 Kids Mud Run on June 4th!
  1. Start summer off right, by getting active and being outside.
  2. Gives them something to “train” for.
  3. They’ll get 30 minutes of exercise in a fun and messy way.
  4. Kids who are active have greater self-esteem and better self-images.
  5. To create friendships by participating with kids their age.
  6. They’ll have so much fun that they won’t even know they’re exercising.
  7. For the sense of accomplishment when they cross the finish line, covered in mud.
  8. To spend time outdoors and enjoy nature.
  9. They’ll receive a free t-shirt for participating.
  10. Anyone can do it!
To register, go to www.oshkoshymca.org, stop by either Oshkosh YMCA location, or call the Oshkosh YMCA at 920.236.3380. 

May is National Employee Health & Fitness Month

May is National Employee Health and Fitness Month. The goal of National Employee Health and Fitness Month is to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to employers and their employees through worksite health promotion activities and environments. Worksite health and wellness programs improve the overall health and productivity of a business and its employees. Worksite wellness programs have been shown to improve health care cost management, enhance employee productivity, decrease rates of illness and injuries, and reduce employee absenteeism. The benefits for employees include lower levels of stress, increased well-being, improved physical fitness, reduced body weight, and increased health awareness.

Now is the time to bring new life to an existing wellness program or start a new program at your workplace. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report in 2002 revealed that at worksites with physical activity programs, employers have:
  • reduced healthcare costs by 20 to 55 percent
  • reduced short-term sick leave by six to 32 percent
  • increased productivity by two to 52 percent
A new study published in the January 2014 issue of Health Affairs suggests that workplace wellness programs can help cut healthcare costs and reduce hospital admissions for employees with chronic illnesses. The study analyzed the PepsiCo’s Healthy Living wellness program and found their return on investment, over a seven year period, to be a savings of $3.78 for every $1 the company invested in its wellness program.

During the month of May, employers should consider bringing an activity to their workforce that encourages movement, offers a health message, is fun, and that anyone, regardless of their current fitness level, can participate in.  Some ideas include:
  • Bike to work day – Businesses can plan a bike-to-work event and reward employees who participate. 
  • Fitness trail – Set up a fitness trail within the office or building encouraging employees to use the stairs.  Designate stretching areas and water stations.
  • Wellness route – Map out a 30-minute walk route for employees.
  • Dance demos – Invite an instructor to move your employees through simple dance steps such as a Zumba class.
  • Chair exercise – Learn an exercise routine that involves your arms and legs from a chair!
  • Giant salad bowl – Have employees bring in a different item to put into a giant salad.
  • Stretch breaks – Implement stretch breaks throughout the work day. Give employees example stretches to do each day.
  • Snack attack – Have the employees create teams to prepare and share healthy snacks.
  • Community Garden – Create a garden at your worksite for employees to take care of and eat from.
  • Race for Wellness – Stage a 3K, 5K, or 10K event for your employees to participate in.
  • Splash and Dash – Teams compete with two runners and two swimmers for best time.
A systematic review from the American Journal of Health Promotion of 56 published studies of worksite health programs showed that well-implemented workplace health programs can lead to 25 percent savings on absenteeism, health care costs, and workers’ compensation and disability management claims costs.

For more ideas on how to implement worksite wellness programs, or to create a program for National Employee Health and Fitness Month, contact the Oshkosh YMCA at 236-3380.

Safe Cycling

Like a grizzly bear peering out of his den at the first hint of spring, the warmer weather and blue skies tend to bring Oshkosh out of hibernation. Our community seems to bloom each spring along with the plants and trees. We start seeing our neighbors again, walking, biking and doing yard work. It’s no coincidence that May is National Bicycle Awareness Month.

If you haven’t already figured it out, riding a bike is a blast! It’s good for your health and it’s good for your community. Riding a bike to work, for example, means one less car added to the morning commute and less pollution. After a long winter where much of our time is spent indoors, it’s so beneficial to your body and mind to get outside and get some exercise! It’s also crucial that everyone learns how to ride their bike safely.

As part of a community service project, the Oakwood 5th Grade Girl Scout troop would like to share some important tips for keeping our cyclists safe this spring and summer.
  1. Always wear a helmet.
  2. Wear reflective and bright colored clothing so you are visible.
  3. Don’t listen to music or talk on the phone while cycling. Stay alert!
  4. Bike in the direction of traffic and ride single file and in a straight line. If you are swerving or riding unpredictably your chances of being hit by a vehicle increase.
  5. Obey all traffic laws and lights. Act like a car and follow normal traffic patterns.
  6. It’s a good idea to carry some form of identification and or a cell phone in case of emergency.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website, bicycles are considered "vehicles" on Wisconsin roadways. That means bicyclists must obey the rules of the road like any other vehicle and must be treated as equal users by all other vehicles.

For motorists, please remember that bicycles have a right to use the road too and we all have to work together to keep our roads safe for everyone. If you are driving a car and are approaching a cyclist in your lane, wait at least two car lengths back from the bike until there are no approaching cars in the other lane. Then pass the cyclist slowly and with a wide berth.

In partnership with the East Central Wisconsin Regional Safe Routes to School program, the Oakwood 5th Grade Girl Scouts are organizing a Walk-and-Roll to Oakwood event on May 19th for all Oakwood students, parents and staff. The goal of the event is to encourage kids to get some exercise and discover how fun it is to ride or walk to school!   

Now go dust off that old two-wheeler, and hit the road!

Written by: Josee Berg, Jenna Freiberg, Laina Hammen, Keagan Potter, Chloe Tritt and Josie Weber (Oakwood 5th Grade Girl Scouts).

May is Water Safety Month

As the season turns from winter to spring, the Oshkosh YMCA encourages children and parents in Oshkosh to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind. In Y swim programs, participants can enjoy water sports, enhance or learn new techniques, meet new friends and develop confidence, while also learning safety skills that can save lives. 
“Swimming is not only a fun, healthy activity, but an important life skill for all children,” said Tracy Gilles, Downtown Aquatics Director at the Oshkosh YMCA. “Learning basic water safety skills is a great introduction to the world of swimming that often continues with swim lessons and competitive swim programs, and can even lead to a career.”
As part of National Water Safety Month in May, the Oshkosh YMCA encourages parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming—beginning with water safety. Following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:
  • Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.
  • Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.
  • Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. 
  • Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.
  • Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities.
In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing.
As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 60 years. The Oshkosh YMCA continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose from including Parent/Child lessons (ages 6 months – 3 years), Preschool swim lessons (ages 3-5), Youth swim lessons (ages 6 and up) and Adult swim lessons (ages 18+). The Oshkosh YMCA also offers Adaptive Aquatic programming for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. The goal of the program is to provide all ability levels an opportunity to learn new things or improve existing aquatic skills. The Oshkosh YMCA also offers private swim lessons for those that are interested in one-on-one instruction; this is offered for all ages. American Red Cross Lifeguard Training is also offered to individuals aged 15 and older who are interested in becoming a lifeguard.  Re-certification classes are also available. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in all YMCA aquatic programs, financial assistance is available to those in need to help cover the costs.
To learn more about the Oshkosh YMCA’s swim programs, please contact Tracy Gilles at tracygilles@oshkoshymca.org or Lisa Bifano at lisabifano@oshkoshymca.org.


Charging Up for a Healthy Summer!

Summer is just around the corner and with it children’s break from the routine—mornings spent sleeping in, afternoons spent watching television or playing video games in the cool air conditioning and evenings enjoying a nice ice cream cone before bed. It may sound great, but a summer spent like this can have lasting negative effects.
Kids are less physically active and engaged in learning during the summer months and research shows that children gain weight two to three times faster than during the school year. In addition to that, kids can fall behind academically because they don’t have access to out-of-school learning opportunities. 
With this in mind, on Saturday, April 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Oshkosh Community YMCA, 20th Avenue location, is hosting YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, an annual, national initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids and families. When a child is healthy, happy, motivated and excited, amazing things are bound to happen. Healthy Kids Day is a powerful reminder not to let children idle away their summer days but instead, focus on physical and mental play. Across the nation nearly 1.2 million participants will partake in games, healthy cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts and more. Here at the Oshkosh YMCA families and children will get to participate in a variety of classes and activities to motivate and teach families how to develop a healthy routine at home. For a complete schedule of Healthy Kids Day activities, visit www.oshkoshymca.org.
“At the Y, we believe charged up kids really do achieve amazing things, and there are no days off for a child’s developing mind and body” said Lisa Nething, Family and Special Events Director. “Through our strong presence and reach with children during summer months, the Healthy Kids Day platform is a great opportunity to educate families and engage kids to stay physically and intellectually active over the summer.”
In celebration of YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the Y offers the following tips to help families develop healthy habits:
  • High Five the Fruits and Veggies – Make sure kids get at least five servings a day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend to maintain healthy childhood development. And to keep kids’ taste buds evolving, have everyone in the family try at least one bite of a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month.
  • Foster an Early and Ongoing Passion for Books – Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.
  • Team Up for Athletic Events – Set a family goal of great health by teaming up for community or charity events like races, walks, fun runs, bike rides, etc.
  • Volunteer Together – Find a cause that matters to the kids. Open their eyes to a world beyond themselves and the rich rewards that come from making a difference.
  • Make sleep a priority – Doctors recommend 10-12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5-12 and 7-8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning and other vital functions.
All kids deserve the best summer ever, and Delta is proud to be the national sponsor of Healthy Kids Day, which kicks off a healthy, active and engaged summer for kids throughout the country. 

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