Hear the World and Special Olympics join forces with US Olympian, former Congressman Jim Ryun
WARRENVILLE, Ill., May 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Former US Olympian Jim Ryun set the record for the mile as a high school junior, competed in three US Olympics and held a seat in Congress from 1996-2007. Now he’s partnered with Hear the World and Special Olympics to set another record: the overall number of people in the US who take care of their hearing health.
About Healthy Athletes, Healthy Hearing
Healthcare outcomes data show that people with intellectual disabilities are historically underserved when it comes to accessing certain basic healthcare needs. Nearly one in three Special Olympics athletes in the United States fail hearing screenings, making them candidates for further evaluation and in many cases, treatment through hearing aids. Unfortunately, many have never had their hearing tested or have been unable to afford hearing aids due to a lack of health insurance or access to care in general.
That’s why Ryun (who suffers from hearing loss), Special Olympics and Hear the World have joined forces as part of the Healthy Hearing program.
During key local Special Olympic Games, athletes will undergo an onsite hearing screening as part of the Healthy Hearing program. Those who are identified with potential hearing loss will be directed to an audiologist in their local market who will provide further evaluation and treatment. For those who require them, they will receive Phonak hearing instruments free of charge.
“Imagine the number of athletes not able to hear the roar of the crowd when they cross the finish line,” said Ryun. “That undoubtedly has a significantly negative impact upon their competition, not to mention the impact to their ability to respond to information from coaches, trainers and judges. The safety and interpersonal relationships of these athletes can also be impeded by hearing loss, too. That’s why I’m here to encourage Omaha residents to support their Special Olympic athletes as well as undergo their own hearing screening.”
Show Your Support
Kelly Wacker, AuD, F-AAA, Clinical Director of Healthy Hearing in Nebraska, Assistant Professor of Practice and Audiology Clinical Coordinator at the University of Nebraska encourages everyone to support the Healthy Hearing initiative. “I’ve been working with the Healthy Hearing program for four years and even with great access to hearing healthcare in the United States, people with intellectual disabilities are still underserved,” said Dr. Wacker.
“It’s so necessary for these athletes to get screened at the Games and receive more in-depth testing close to home. To see the positive benefits that someone experiences from hearing healthcare is remarkable, and I love being a part of the overall solution for these athletes.”
From being screened to competing, these athletes demonstrate a wonderful ‘no barriers” attitude that Dr. Wacker hopes will inspire other Americans to follow. “More than 36 million Americans currently suffer from some degree of hearing loss, yet fewer than 20 percent of people with hearing loss seek treatment. I encourage everyone to show their support for these athletes by getting a hearing test,” she concluded.
Omaha residents can take a free online hearing test to show their support for the partnership and address their hearing health.
Here’s one testimonial from the parents of an athlete fitted with hearing aids as a result of the Healthy Hearing program:
As you know, Heather was fitted for her hearing aid by Phonak and Special Olympic World Games after Christmas. She received the aid as of today. When Heather opened the box to get it out, she was smiling and she hasn’t stopped smiling. After they calibrated the hearing thresholds on the aid, she was hearing very well. We were both surprised at how well. She was answering questions without the delay or repetition as she did before. We are very happy and pleased with the service we receive, and hope this will help others in the future. Thanks Special Olympics for the generosity and caring of my child and special Olympic athlete.
About Hear the World
Hear the World is a global initiative launched in 2006 by leading hearing system manufacturer Phonak to raise awareness about the importance of hearing. The initiative calls attention to the social and emotional impact of hearing loss and addresses prevention of and solutions to a problem that affects more than 16 percent of the world’s population. Bryan Adams, Annie Lennox, Lenny Kravitz, Placido Domingo and other renowned personalities support the Hear the World initiative as ambassadors. In the context of the Hear the World initiative, Phonak established the non-profit Hear the World Foundation to improve the quality of life of people with hearing loss through financial and technical assistance. The foundation is committed to the prevention of hearing loss as well as the support of people with hearing loss and their families.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly 4 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now take place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard to World Games. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com
SOURCE Hear the World