The Hear the World Foundation Gives Hundreds of Hearing Instruments to 2011 Special Olympcis Athletes

June 28, 2011

For Immediate Release

ATHENS, GREECE - From June 25 to July 4, Athens, Greece will host more than 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 170 countries for the 13th Special Olympics World Summer Games. During the Games, all athletes will receive comprehensive hearing screening as part of their medical check-up. For those athletes showing hearing loss, the Hear the World Foundation will donate hearing instruments with free follow-up care in their home country. The Hear the World Foundation was established in 2006 by leading Swiss hearing instrument manufacturer Phonak and is committed to improve the quality of life and promote equal opportunities for people with hearing loss worldwide.

An amazingly high 26 percent of the athletes participating in the Special Olympics have hearing loss. Unfortunately, many do not have hearing instruments. Often the cause is lack of access to medical and audiological care in their home country, or lack of funds . For this reason the Hear the World Foundation donates hundreds of high-quality hearing instruments to the Healthy Hearing Program organized by the Special Olympics.

“We are extremely honored to welcome the Hear the World Foundation into the Special Olympics Movement,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. “Our athletes represent the most medically underserved population in the world, and the World Games represents the largest health program exclusively for persons with intellectual disabilities. Now, Special Olympics can offer these deserving athletes the health intervention that will have an enormous impact on them, both on and off the playing field.” 

Free hearing screening for all athletes
During the Games, all of the athletes will undergo a comprehensive hearing screening as part of their medical check-up. Those who have been identified with hearing loss will receive free hearing instruments and corresponding follow-up care in their home countries – all organized and funded by the Hear the World Foundation. On site in Athens at the HELEXPO Center, on Wednesday June 29 from 10am to 4pm a demonstration of hearing instrument fitting will take place.

“The advanced technology in modern hearing instruments enables people with hearing loss to significantly enhance their quality of life,” says Alexander Zschokke, Chairman of the Board of the Hear the World Foundation. “We are particularly pleased to be able to offer the athletes at the Special Olympics the chance to improve their hearing and ultimately their quality of life.” In order to ensure that the athletes can enjoy their new hearing instruments year round, VARTA Microbattery, a leading provider of hearing instrument batteries and Partner of the Hear the World Foundation, is providing a year’s supply of batteries for each athlete.

Hear the World Foundation projects around the globe
In addition to its cooperation with the Special Olympics, the Hear the World Foundation supports a variety of other projects all over the world, in countries such as Kenya, Cambodia and the Dominican Republic. Further information and the application form for those interested in supporting the projects can be found at www.hear-the-world.com.

About the Hear the World Foundation
The Hear the World Foundation is committed to improve the quality of life and promote equal opportunities for people with hearing loss globally. To achieve this, the Foundation provides financial funds, hearing aids and assistive listening technology. The Foundation has a special focus on projects that support children reach their development milestones and realise their full potential in life regardless of their hearing loss. For more information please visit www.hear-the-world.org, follow Hear the World on http://twitter.com/Hear_The_World and become a Fan on http://www.facebook.com/CanYouHearTheWorld.

About Healthy Hearing
Healthy Hearing is one of seven medical disciplines that make up the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program. Healthy Athletes is the primary health-related program for Special Olympics, providing free health screenings to athletes with intellectual disabilities in vision, hearing, oral health, healthy lifestyles, general fitness, podiatry, and sports physicals. The need for Healthy Athletes is great. Despite a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive sub-standard care or virtually no health care at all. Special Olympics has shown that many health concerns are more common and significant for people with intellectual disabilities. Among Special Olympics athletes in the United States, 30.8% fail hearing tests; 24.6% have obvious, untreated tooth decay; 22% have low bone density; and 15.3% have eye disease.

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 more than 3.7 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 takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in places like China and from regions like the Middle East to the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard.  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.

World Games website:  www.athens2011.org

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