17Oct/19Off

Parents have become obsessed with labels, not solutions

fragile-label-1-600x573-600x573Parents have become obsessed with labels, not solutions

 

There is nothing like working on a passion for a decade to give you perspective, mine is literacy. Besides how much I've learnt since those early days, 10 years ago last month, when I got the keys to my own school. I've seen a frightening trend developing over the last five years in particular. I've been trying to chart the reasons as to why I now work with increasingly traumatised souls younger and younger. In the beginning, I felt I was a victim of my own success. I wondered did I attract these situations others had struggled to find solutions for simply as my own reputation grew? Sure, there was an aspect of this as I became known for being an expert in reuniting the world with teens who'd been trapped in their bedrooms for years. But this doesn't explain the 6 and 7-year-olds I am meeting regularly. Why has not being able to read, write or pronounce a few words become such an issue? When did this become the end of the world? Why does this shatter their confidence so much? Why is everything from anxiety to bed wetting or not sleeping now in the mix? Why have they all been for so many assessments or "interventions" before I meet them? Why has so little helped them? They are all in learning support.

 

The answers? I realised that parents have been sucked into a vortex of feeling that a label, not a solution will give their children the "edge" in life, especially in the education system. The only reason we do assessments is to provide schools with a branded identity for our children to have resource time that very often doesn't help them at all. I know this sounds harsh but it's the truth that I've seen on a repeat loop for a decade. A loop that is becoming increasingly more traumatising for the children involved. Now it has become so skewed that parents feel they must label their children before even entering the system in order to provide a survival net. Yet teachers complain to me their classes are filled with excessively labelled students. But often it is the schools insisting on these assessments or even taking the power to do them without the inclusion of the parents. A label means money for a school. Not a solution to the problem or tailor made help for your child to learn differently. It doesn't provide them with coping strategies for life. As a by-product of the label, I listen to parents every day tell me what their child will never be able to do well. As I've done and succeeded at it all despite these claims, I feel qualified to say this is utter rubbish. In fact, I only went to college to do a degree and later a PhD in order to be a qualified voice on what you can achieve with a severe dyslexia label. It's why I'm now a writer too.

 

It's time parents took their power back and stopped feeling forced to label their child as a solution to often very insignificant challenges. So what if they take 6 months longer to talk? So what if they are quiet? So what if they fidget? So what if phonics don't teach them to read? So what if they use their fingers to count? Or mix up their b's and d's. Does it matter if they don't ace the spelling tests? Who cares if you get your pen pass first or last? Who invented the pen pass? Your child's happiness is so much more important than these educational milestones. Life doesn't have to be such a competitive race.

 

In the long run, It's better energy spent If you start to look online for solutions for ways to support rather than brand your child. Your child will not grow up to feel there is something fundamentally wrong with them. We need a change of mindset to readdress the power dynamics currently being played out at younger and younger ages in schools not just across this country but the world. Daily, I deal with the same problems, the same trauma created across 6 countries globally. The same problems in mindset in contrasting cultures with parents all seeking the "edge" for their child. A very important part of being a parent is to be an educator yourself. No one else is going to fix your child's challenges better than you.

 

Parents seem shocked initially when I set them 6 weeks of work for them to do with their child at home. Yes, you can take the power back. Yes, you can help. And yes, in a very short few weeks they are all reading, writing or speaking better. No therapists. No labels. There is a whole world of internet material on various platforms to help you. I personally record a podcast for this very purpose, Purple Psychology. But there are endless resources out there on Pinterest or Youtube and so on to help you.

 

The biggest part of my work is not the help or program to learn differently. It's the rebuilding of confidence of little damaged souls and the encouragement of parents to trust their guts. You do know your child better than anyone else. Don't listen to any therapist or psychologist who tells you differently. You know the days to push. You know the days to back off. The times to hug. You have all the encouragement inside in you. Just stop the labels, please. Stop racing to some universal "average" someone else dreamed up for your child. We need to embrace difference again and parents need to be the ones to decide this shift. Years ago, I wrote, "It doesn't matter what you can't do, only what you can."

 

Naoisé O'Reilly reflections February 2019

 

17Oct/19Off

What factors affect how well we do in exams?

What factors affect how well we do in exams?

 

You would think it is all down to how much time you spend swatting in your bedroom.

 

There are in fact 8 main factors that affect exam performance

 

Subject Knowledge - Yes how much context you remember. You increase the content you remember by how you effectively you process the information in a way that suits you. In short realistic study blocks. of time

 

Your Exam History - How you have done in previous exams. If you had a bad exam last time you are inclined to walk into the next exam feeling that this will be the same. Leave the last exam behind you!

 

Exam Preparation - Have you maintained your health? Do you feel good about yourself? Are you feeling calm, fit, rested and do you have everything you need for the exam from food to pens organised?

 

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Exam Practice - How well do you know the exam papers? Do you plan on doing the exams from start to finish? Bad idea! You need to do your best questions first when you are freshest and get your best marks for these questions!

 

Experience of the Subject - Do you bring yourself into your answers? What sets you apart from all the other scripts and answers? Your life experience. Think about where you have travelled too, who you have met, what sports you are good at, what books have you read for inspiration? Who do you admire that you can quote? What work experience have you done? All this is valuable examples you know first hand - you don't have to learn them off - you remember these experiences.

 

Writing Skills - Do you do out a plan for your essays? Do you make sure to have a beginning, middle and a conclusion? Do you make sure to state if you have been for or against the argument you presented? Do you read over your work as you go along and keep track of what you are saying?

 

Use of Time - Have you got into the habit of working in blocks of time similar to those that you need to answer the questions in? Have you got time left to read over your work? Do you get stuck on a question and not move on? Do you joint down a plan for the question with the key bullet points to get started?

 

Attitude and Approach - Do you go in feeling this is going to be about everything you don't know or that it's your chance to shine? Do you know what you are good at? No one is good at everything! You don't need to be - you just need to excel in your strengths! Exams test who you are not what you don't remember.

 

17Oct/19Off

Mocks and the sky falling in, Chicken Licken Syndrome

Mocks and the sky falling in, Chicken Licken Syndrome

 

Sometimes I ask why do we do the mocks? In fact, in recent years I have charted that where I have students in schools which don't do the mocks, they perform better in the leaving certificate in a few months time. Why? Because they don't have to recover from what I call "Chicken-Licken-syndrome" where students seem to genuinely feel like the sky is falling in on top of them! The mocks are a test run - you are meant to make mistakes. That's the whole point of doing them.

 

Often I refer to this time of the year as "crushing season" because I watch the students who we have built up since September lose complete confidence in their abilities. We have to build them up again from the floor. I really question at this stage if the mocks are a good exercise at all? Surely there must be a better way to have a test run?

 

Ironically, if you did brilliantly you also need to have a little bit of caution at this stage. I often find the students who do exceptionally well in the mocks take it as a given that this is how the papers will look next June. They may be totally different. Did you just get lucky with the topics or do you really have a good exam strategy?

 

The biggest mistake that is made at this stage is students and parents alike being convinced the mark you get now is the mark you will get next June. This is not true. The course has not even been completed in many cases. The students don't know their best topics yet and they have often had little or no exposure to exam papers at this stage.

 

Students and parents are often bullied into dropping down a level in the subject. This is also a very bad idea at this stage of the year. The higher you learn a subject too for the longest time possible the better you do in June. For example, if you continue in an honours class and then drop down to ordinary level closer the time you are more likely to get at least a B and often an A at Ordinary level. In a world where points matter this is much better than "passing" an ordinary level paper. In fact, with the new grading system, it may still be better to get a lower grade at a higher level. Do the points math and the worst case scenario before you drop down. But the higher you aim and the more complex the material you cover, the better you will do with an easier paper if you do decide to play safe in June.

 

The sky really isn't falling in and there is loads of time left to fix the mistakes - but it is very hard to show people your mistakes when you are made to feel so bad for making them.

 

You need to do a proper evaluation of your exam papers. Where did you do well? What went wrong? Did you waste time? Did you read a question wrong and answer a different question to what was asked? Did you miss a whole section? Did you get stuck on one math problem and not move on? Did you not know any quotes? Are you good at the details or the generic writing?

 

For some students with learning difficulties, the mocks go badly in a more spectacular fashion than most. I myself did very badly in my mocks as do many students with learning difficulties. As the department of education has not granted who will and will not receive accommodations in their exams, very few if any schools allow these students to sit their exams in a similar environment to how they will in June. We are overwhelmed by the exam hall experience. I've conducted some research into why some students are hyper-sensitive and how this can be helped. We don't have a reader and hence we read the questions wrong. It's common we take the wrong meaning and answer a completely different question to what has been asked. If you are going to use a laptop in the state exams maybe you didn't get to do this in the mocks? It's rare I find for students to get the accommodations they need and will have in June at this stage for the mocks.

 

Some students haven't got to grasp with the whole course in one "bulk" form. They are struggling to put all the sections together and maybe they haven't covered their best section yet. There are people who need to see the big picture first.

 

No one tells you how to sit an exam and for some students they really do need to do a visual map of the answer and the question, this is highly discouraged. Often, it is implied to be a waste of time when it's not at all. It's a vital way of thinking for visual students.

 

There are so many factors as to why students find exams hard. With so much time left to refine the way you work best, the sky is not falling in. It's time to realise that making mistakes is how we learn best. How we evaluate our mistakes is what will determine how much we learn from them and how much better we will do in the next exam. The one that matters. Put the mocks in context, they are a test run.

 

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26Aug/19Off

Journal.ie news story on changes to Irish Exemption

Screenshot 2019-08-26 at 15.06.13

 

https://www.thejournal.ie/changes-to-irish-exemption-in-school-4762363-Aug2019/

3Jun/19Off

10 year Journey Naoise O’Reilly

50218008_10213319039151464_6686470481584848896_oMaking myself Obsolete

It's that time of the year for education in the Northern Hemisphere. A time I always reflect not only on all my student's progress but my own.

This time last year I'd just really embarked on the journey to a be a writer. To fulfil a dream. To pour myself into books to take the need for a physical me out of people's lives in order to make a difference. Everyone has always assumed I'd set up more schools. More training. But for me, the deep changes start within the mindset of each individual. Their sense of understanding of themselves. Their potential and how to express their dreams openly which have so often been locked inside. Only when you are strong as an individual can you contribute to the world around. Hense I went on a journey to explain the art of the core to people.

Of course, I'm always still working with individuals and always will be. It's how I continue to grow, develop and learn myself. But I feel my books have the potential to help many people who may not gain access to me. Even the ones who have seem to have taken themselves to a new place through the books.

These books are the most authentic self I've ever been. And as a result, I've never felt so content as I approach the end of a cycle in one hemisphere.

It seems fitting that this year I know so many more students who are now able to read too.

 

Naoisé O'Reilly

June 2019

12Jan/18Off

Dr Naoise O’Reilly Work and Research Areas

Dr Naoise O'Reilly Work and Research Areas 
12Jan/18Off

How to set goals and intentions with Children

Boy

Setting Goals and Intentions with Children

 

Why is it a good idea to get into the practice of setting goals with children?

 

1: It allows you to feel in control of your life from a young age. Some personalities need to feel in control of their lives more than others. This can be a positive way to give this element to certain children.

 

2: It is good with intentions to learn to believe in something bigger than yourself. Studies have shown that people who have some outside belief in their lives are naturally happier. This can counterbalance the over control aspect of some personalities.

 

3: It reinforces positivity from a young age. Certain personalities more than others need to feel that they are achieving and moving forward. They respond well to benchmarking and having milestones in their lives. This is good to reinforce from an early age.

 

4: It teaches reflection in children. It's good from a young age to learn to think about your whole life. What is good? What do you want to change? What do you want to achieve this year? How?

 

How to go about setting these?

 

Very simply, they need three aspects;

 

1: To make sure they are your intentions or goals. Not what you feel you should be doing. This is vital to teach from a young age. We should be driven by our own standards and internal benchmarks, not the expectations we feel others have of us.

 

2: The difference between intentions and goals. Goals need to have a timeframe and a set ideal point of achievement. I'm going to be able to do this, I'm going to work up to this set point or I'm going to learn this new skill or I'm going to set this new best time for myself and so on.

 

3: Intentions, on the other hand, are more flexible but it's good to learn from young that we can set an intention to bring something into our world and manifest it for ourselves. Personalities that are more intuitive learn sometime too late in life that they are good at manifesting their desires. We don't do enough work with children to positively show what is possible for them with a positive thought.

 

What Matters with these goals or intentions?

 

1: That you are doing them for yourself. That they are inspiring you to be the best of yourself. A good quote for this is; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

 

2: That they are not all materialistic aspirations. There is more to value in life.

 

3: That they are balanced across your whole life. All too often children feel doing well in school is all that matters. What you do outside, what you achieve, fitness, health, sport, sleep, friends, family, creativity - all of this matter so much. Use this an exercise to make children look at their whole world not just their grades!

 

4: That they are achievable. If the goal is too high it can feel unattainable. It's ok to learn early in life that big goals need to be broken into small steps and conquered gradually. You get to the big goal in the end - just sometimes things need time. This teaches long-term motivation and perseverance rather than failure.

 

 

 

Featured in Family Friendly HQ

9Jan/18Off

Signs Your Life is Out of Balance and What To Do About It?

balance

How do you feel when your life is out of balance?


What are the signs of your life being out of Balance? Here are 7 key areas to look for tells in your life. They cross all areas of your life from work to relationships. How do you react to interruptions? How do you benchmark how well you are doing in yourself? How well do you eat? What is your personal self-worth? How many people truly ask these questions of themselves?


1: The control tell: The easiest way to think about how you feel is how little it takes to tip the scales. You feel emotional, stressed, overwhelmed all the time. This can lead to an unhealthy need to control yourself or others in a desperate need to readdress the balance.


2: The interruption tell: You have a lack of tolerance and patience. The smallest things push you over the edge in an unreasonable overreaction for the level of the challenge. You can also have a lack of tolerance for noise and interruptions. Do you lose it with people in your work or home environment easily?


3: Looking outside tell: There is a constant feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where or how to start tasks. Do you always feel as if there is a task hanging over you? You can find it very hard to know what others expect from you. You find yourself constantly seeking validation from others to see if you are doing well enough. You can find your perfectionism crippling. Unable to start tasks in case they are not done well enough.


4: Fitness and diet tell: You either don't do enough exercise or become obsessed with too much. You control your food and don't have good sleeping patterns. You are always tired and can't get out of bed in the mornings. You wonder "what does sunrise look like" - you never see it! The alarm goes off 10 times in the mornings.


5: The wrong key tell: You feel displaced and opportunities don't seem to arrive or never quite fit to work out. You are always blaming fate. The wrong set of circumstances for you. Besides not being promoted in jobs you can find that you are endlessly looking for a new fit, you never quite settle anywhere. You are constantly upskilling to feel whole. Will the next course fill the void?


6: Relationship tell: You can suddenly withdraw from people and relationships. Ending relationships suddenly without clear thought. Have you stopped talking to your family? Do you seem to have displaced friends from your life recently? Do you just feel disconnected from everyone around you?


7: The searching tell: You are constantly searching to fit in and belong somewhere. Never found anyone that truly gets you. This can lead to an obsession in self-analysis. What's wrong with me? This can become a serial self-help or development search. Do you join many different groups and never stick at any one of them for any length of time?


If these are the tells what are the fixes? How do you counterbalance yourself? There are three simple factors;


1: You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses.


2: You need to find a way to express what it really is you want to achieve in life. Set goals.


3: You need to know how to fulfill your dreams or the steps to make them happen. Try to create a roadmap of realistic steps to these goals for yourself.


Why do the people who come to me crave more balance in their lives? Many people would assume that the aspirations are materialistic. The goals of a new car, a bigger house or to earn more money. It's not that many of these achievements do not happen with greater balance but generally there are 7 key mindsets that people seek.


These are;


1: Happiness is the most important element.


2: Confidence is also a top priority.


3: People strive for self-worth.


4: Respect is huge, both at home and in the workplace.


5: Greater work-life balance. To not always feel tired and jaded.


6: Quality time to spend with the people who matter in their lives and for the other interests in life.


7: Better relationships with partners, children, family and work colleagues.


Everyone that comes to me uses the phrase to me that "they are at crossroads in their life". They want me to siphon their dreams out of them, that have often been forgotten along the way. But most importantly they want a roadmap of how to get to where they want to be, "I now have a way of moving forward to achieve what I am capable of in life and doing what will make me happier". I always say start with steps. No matter how small they are steps in the right direction. Take control in a positive way. I don't ever tell anyone anything that they don't tell me already knew inside themselves, "Dr. O'Reilly has helped to bring together feelings, thoughts, and plans that have been floating around in my head for some time".


Feature in Family Friendly HQ
 
21Nov/17Off

What matters most in educational development nature or nurture

Raised-hands-in-class-original

What matters most in educational development? Nature or Nurture?

 

 

That age-old debate of what makes us who we are? How much of ourselves is down to genes, parents or environment? How much is learned?

 

What are Nature and Nurture?:

 

I have always been obsessed with two aspects of the people I work with, their personality and the way they process the world around them. For me, personality is nature and processing ability, how you learn, is nurture.

 

This has been a huge focus of my work as in order to help people change often long-term generational destructive patterns you have to understand where they steam from and what you have control over.

 

How did this discovery come about for me?:

 

Like all big research eureka moments this one came about by accident. Almost 8 years ago now, at the end of the first term at The Homework Club (my development center), we work through an evaluation process with the students to wrap up the term's achievements. Firstly, I decided to do the evaluation with all ages from 5 upwards. This turned out to be a great decision.

 

The evaluation had two main functions, firstly to get the students thinking about their own progress over the term, where they had reached and where they would still like to improve in each topic. This gave them control over their own learning objectives and helps them map out a plan for the new year. The second function allowed them to study their learning style across 4 types of learner.The answer I expected was that the underdeveloped students to tick boxes across all 4 areas and have no real idea what their learning style was.

 

This also allowed us to reflect on the students and their personalities. When I first started this study of the students, I saw a trend very quickly that the disorganized, unstructured and unfocused students didn't fit neatly into one category of learning style. They ticked one box in each section with no clear direction of thought. Many of these students simply didn't know where their strengths lied or how they learned best. This evaluation exercise would allow as a teaching team to focus on key skills we felt that needed to be improved or to help the students develop more structure in certain areas and so on throughout the second term in preparation for the exams at the end of term three. But this exercise turned out to be much more significant.

 

After the 3rd year of this study, I saw an even bigger significance than I did initially. As the student cohort had expanded in the ages (from 5 to 20+) and the learning difficulties of the students became more diverse, I now saw a new more important trend.

 

The younger students, especially those with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, and Aspergers all exhibit a "multiplicity". This means they can honestly tick all the boxes on the questionnaire for their learning style. I initially thought the younger students just didn't understand the task. But then I reflected they can't have all got it wrong? I thought about the individuals involved and their learning styles and realized that they had done the excise correctly.

 

What this amounted to was that these students had multiple ways to work and process information. I referred to this as multiplicity, learning in 3 to 4 learning styles simultaneously. They needed to learn in many ways at once, especially to make it interesting and challenging for them. So for example when we always separate out reading, writing and creative tasks separately, it is hard for them to learn and to stay interested. If we suddenly use very visual ways to learn reading and writing around exciting visual and auditory style topics we suddenly saw much better results. It's worth noting that we also didn't see any of the behavior difficulties associated with the conditions.

 

As students go through the system they seem to lose this gift of multiplicity.

 

I only saw a very small proportion of very well adjusted personalities and diversely interested students in the senior cycle above the age of 15. Most had become linear in their way of processing because of the environment or nurturing. Since we always force students to work in one way in a very segregated style in the conversational school system, it seems to me that they lose this wonderful diverse multiplicity along the way. Not only does this mean they don't learn well within their learning style but they get out of the habit of using key skills they possess to do tasks in new, creative and fresh ways. Something that would be hugely beneficial for later working life in all sectors.

 

The time factor:

 

Often you feel you are racing the clock. I now know it is so much easier to cause a lasting significant change in people pre 7. Particularly in helping with literacy, learning or personality difficulties. I find myself ranting to those close to me about how we don't work to diagnose people with a condition pre 7 because we have become obsessed with conditions and labels for children instead of development. I think for me there is a whole sperate article on labels versus development.

 

How about we forget the label and realize the importance of the opportunity that exists for us in this golden timeframe? So this leads me back to what matters most nature or nurture? Which is changeable?

 

Can you change Nature or Nurture?

 

From my research over the last 8 years, I have proven that it is possible to change the processing abilities of students if you work with the student pre 10. By 15 you have lost the golden opportunity to nurture people to a more dynamic processing abilities.

 

For some personalities, they naturally process the world in more ways than others. But with the Purple Learning environment system where you teach people in all 4 processing ways, visual, auditory, kinesthetic and practical you can develop the more predisposed linear people to work in all of these ways beyond the age of 15.

 

The death of creativity:

 

It was a shock for me to realise that the traditional school system appears to flatten what I call multiplicity out of students. I think when Ken Robinson talks about the death of creativity in the school system, for me, he is talking about this linear processing that we develop by the conformity of the traditional education ways. So this nurturing is an environmental created way of working, experiencing and seeing the world around you.

 

So how about nature? Nature is personality. This is generational. I've been particularly researching the correlation between personality and processing abilities. How you take in the world around you and how you communicate this interpretation. What I find really striking about personalities in families is that they often skip a generation. You can have a child in a family who resembles a grandparent or an Aunt or Uncle from either side of the parent's families. Often many of the clashes or black sheep in families are the rarer personalities that only seem to surface less in the generations.

 

Why are certain ages important?

 

The image shows what I call the Purple Development Timescale. In this, you can see that ages 6, 7, 10 and 15 are all vitally important milestones in learning and development.

 

So why are 7 and 10 such critical ages in learning? At 7 your personality starts to cement itself. So combined with how you naturally take in the world around you so prior to this is a huge pivotal time to work with someone on their learning styles. By 10 you start to see yourself in context to the outer world. So this is another vital time period up to 15 to increase your capacity for being different and stretch the development beyond your natural comfort zone.

 

What are the educational development implications?:

 

So what are the implications of these factors? Well, firstly it has a huge impact on widening people's processing abilities. The more dynamic education is up to the age of 10 the wider the learning possibilities are for the future of each student. If there are learning challenges these need to be addressed pre the age of 7. I get my best literacy difficulty results with students before the age of 6 in a positive way without obsessing over what's wrong with them or what label they should be given. The irony is that time and time I have shown that if I work with a student before 7 they don't require a label later as the literacy difficulties are gone. Ages 10 t0 15 require much more thought in education. We need to be much more aware of the comfort zones of certain personalities and the quirks of what each need. The biggest school refusal stages are between 13 and 15. But the challenges that have to lead to these have begun at age 10. I often tell people that I need to go backward in order to find the result for now. But the reality is for me that I wish I was starting at the ground zero point. If we encouraged multiplicity in schools rather than our very linear approach we would be creating more dynamic people for the current environment and times we live in. But we don't, we have the most amount of control and linearity in education pre 15. After this stage, there is little point in becoming more dynamic. The damage is already done. The opportunity to nurture lost. The personalities who are naturally dynamic that we currently label as everything from ADHD to gifted wouldn't be bored either and stitch off as many of them do currently. This is why nature and nurture both have important roles to play in educational development.

 

So what matters most in development Nature or Nurture. The answer is both, but what is more important is time. You have a crucial window of opportunity. You can't control Nature but you can optimise people's personality for the better. You are completely in control of Nurture and the more diverse you are at critical ages of development the bigger the impact in producing well-rounded people. This is the key to escaping the label vortex that we are currently creating in conventional education.

 

 

Publish on Family Friendly HQ.

 

http://www.familyfriendlyhq.ie/family-blog/what-matters-most-in-educational-development-nature-or-nurture

16Oct/17Off

What does Dr Naoisé O’Reilly do?

What does Dr Naoise O'Reilly do? 
Recently I asked a series of people who have worked with me what do I do? Here are some of the answers, including the humorous!

Introduction

Welcome to the Purple Learning Project.

The aim of the Purple Learning Project Foundation is to create a legacy of the methods which Dr Naoisé O’Reilly has developed since 2009.

The methods in learning and personality theory have been developed while working with people of a variety of ages, backgrounds, and cultures. The methods have been applied to the education, business and sporting environments. The ages are in the spectrum of 4 to 70's. The methods include: Purple Profiling, Purple Processing Scales, The Periodic Table of the Development of Results, Forget Phonics Reading Method, Purple Pre-School Success and so on...

There has always been a clear distinction for Dr Naosié in working with people who currently need help within the system and leaving behind something of integrity for the future generations.

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