New Hearing Loss Prevention Program Targets Pre-Teens

The Hearing Foundation of Canada, today is launching a new school program, Sound Sense: Save Your Hearing for the Music!/Oui à l’Ouie: Ménagez Vos Oreilles Pour La Musique!” The program addresses the urgent need to deal with the rising incidence of noise-induced
hearing loss (NIHL) in children. The Sound Sense program teaches 140,000 of Ontario’s pre-teens to protect their hearing by taking steps to prevent hearing loss caused by over-exposure to loud noise, especially loud music. Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, yet 100% preventable.
In this first leg of a national awareness campaign, the bilingual Sound Sense program is the first province-wide program of its kind in Canada. Funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, along with private-donor support, Sound Sense uses a music theme to reach grade six students in 3,000 public and separate schools across Ontario. In many schools a volunteer facilitator, often an audiologist, will present this crucial hearing conservation program
that reinforces the Hearing Foundation’s positive message, “Do all the things you enjoy, but protect your hearing too.”
“The Sound Sense program is an extremely valuable initiative that is long overdue,” says Dr. Robert Harrison, Senior Scientist, Auditory Science Laboratory, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Professor, Department Otolaryngology and Physiology, University of Toronto. “Considering that noise- induced hearing loss is permanent, it makes perfect sense to educate people, particularly our youth, about adopting safe listening practices.”
Endorsed by professional hearing health associations, researchers, audiologists and school boards, the unit complements the current grade six “Healthy Living” curriculum and has won approval from Curriculum Services Canada, the pan-Canadian standards agency for learning resources. The easy to deliver 45-minute lesson, presented in a lively discussion format, asks pre-teens to consider what life might be like if they lost their hearing and, most importantly, what they can do to protect it. The program includes an entertaining animated/live action video with characters “Spike” and his buddy, “Mike”, a sound retriever. Each student also receives a pair ear of plugs, stickers and important take-home information on safe listening practices for
the whole family.
Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common type of hearing loss today. Noise is everywhere and growing louder – at home, in the car and on the job, louder sound systems in theatres and in the family room, noisier power tools, rock concerts with mammoth audio systems to blast sound in bigger venues, computer headsets and CD/MP3 players with ear buds that drive the sound directly into the ear, school dances, and even noisy toys.
The National Centre for Environmental Health in the United States recently revealed that 12.5% or approximately 5.2 million children between 6 and 9 years of age have a noise-induced hearing loss. This is an astounding number of children to have a problem thought to occur mostly in adults. A University of Oregon study shows that 16% of 6- to 19-year-olds have early signs of hearing loss at the range most readily damaged by loud sounds. In
British Columbia, a 1998 study found that almost 30% of young adults entering
the workforce have already suffered some hearing damage due to noise.
“As a parent, I want to make sure that all children do what they can to prevent hearing loss in their lives”, says Stanley Tepner, First Vice President of CIBC Wood Gundy and Board Chair of The Hearing Foundation of Canada. “I have a hearing loss and live with its challenges every day. Sound Sense encourages our young people to enjoy their activities, but also to
understand the value of protecting their hearing at the same time.”


2 Replies to “New Hearing Loss Prevention Program Targets Pre-Teens”

  1. Hello! I applaud this effort to sensitize pre-teens to concerns with noise. I am a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and work with teenagers. I also work with Junior/Intermediate students. What would be the best way for me to access the demonstration information for sensitization purposes? We have five itinerant teachers of the deaf and we would like to purchase the unit you are talking about. Thanks for your help.

    Sincerely, Pam Coulthurst, Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing


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