Since 1999, Special Olympics has provided free hearing screenings to athletes, like Antonio Machada from Portugal, through Healthy Hearing, one of seven disciplines within the Healthy Athletes program.
Hearing loss greatly affects the ability to speak, learn, and interact with others. Before attending a Healthy Hearing event, Alva Stinson from Indiana was shy and had problems understanding people at work. Today, he is much more social.
Thanks to a partnership with the Hear the World Foundation, Special Olympics is able to go beyond simply identifying hearing loss and provide follow-up care. Volunteer hearing professionals fit hearing aids for athletes like 47-years old Kostin Aleksey from Kazakhstan – all free of charge. Since his fitting, Kostin said he can now hear music and more easily talk with his friends.
By connecting athletes with hearing specialists in their home communities, Healthy Hearing gives the opportunity for on-going care as their new hearing aids need adjusting. Athletes like Ben Tan Too Sheng from Singapore also receive instruction on how to care for their new devices.
Jesus Colina, a swimmer from Venezuela, is fitted with a customized mold as part of his new hearing aid. Thanks to the hearing professionals in Phonak's worldwide provider network, Special Olympics athletes receive the highest quality of care available.
Japanese athlete Hiromi Nakada said her new hearing aid gives her crystal clear hearing quality, eliminates background noise, and allows her to use her cell phone to stay in contact with her family and friends.
Several athletes from Pakistan received free hearing aids on the same day. From Asia, to Africa, to South America -- Healthy Hearing is helping Special Olympics athletes across the globe.
Victor Ifesinachi from Nigeria received his free hearing aid during the 2011 World Summer Games Athens. Within days, Paul Ayotunde, Victor's teacher, noticed the difference in his student and wrote Healthy Athletes in thanks. "No gold nor silver to send, no box of chocolate to forward, no scent of rose to dispatch — just a word of appreciation: THANK YOU SO MUCH for what you did for my athletes from Nigeria Team."