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Athens 2011 Healthy Athlete Programme Transforms Lives

Special Olympics athlete Tatjana Hinz gets her hearing tested at the Healthy Athlete Village, Athens, Greece.

The lives of three athletes from The Netherlands were transformed for good after participating in the Healthy Athlete Programme during the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens last summer.

Geert Zeeth, Tatjana Hinz and Marjan Kol all had their hearing tested at the Healthy Athlete Village and severe loss of hearing was detected in both their ears.

On returning to The Netherlands and having their hearing tested once again they have now all received hearing aids for both ears which will serve to improve their quality of life immensely.

For athlete Marjan Kol, hearing care professional Erik Lodewijk wondered how she was able to participate with the team like she did given her severe hearing loss in both ears.

It might seem odd that a severe hearing loss could go unnoticed for so long. But it can be explained. People with an intellectual disability may not recognize that they hear less, so the communication difficulties may be assumed to be caused by other issues and not identified. Lodewijk: "Especially for these people, proper hearing is very important; the better input they get, the higher their achievements will be."

Marjan is really pleased with her hearing aids. When asked if her family recognizes any changes in her hearing, she tells that she noticed changes for herself. She observed that the volume of the TV was quite loud when her mother watches it. At work too she turns the volume of her hearing aids down a bit because noises are sometimes too loud. Her coach Ellen Schaap observes a huge improvement: "Marian is much more coachable because she hears more. We can save our voices now during tournaments. When Marian needs to change positions we can call her at a normal level."

Marjan, Geert and Tatjana’s hearing aids are provided by the Hear the World Foundation who have promised that for the next five years, their hearing aids will be checked.

Until today, numerous athletes have been fitted with hearing aids thanks to the Hear the World Foundation