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New Zealand's First Million Ear Challenge

Hearing Heroes launch New Zealand's First Million Ear Challenge

For Immediate Release
Monday 14th November 2011
A group of hearing heroes who have had their hearing restored by a cochlear implant are championing the message of hearing loss and solutions by launching New Zealand’s first Million Ear Challenge today.

Accompanied with their Giant 2 meter Ear Mascot, Earol, the hearing heroes are spreading the message about the invisible and silent epidemic affecting 1 in 6 kiwis: hearing loss.

Peter Taylor, who has had his hearing restored by a cochlear implant, says that hearing loss is an invisible disability that has dire consequences on your quality of life.

“Communication is at the heart of all human relationships, and when you lose your hearing you are thrown into a silent void which separates you from your loved ones. Helen Keller once said that blindness separates you from things, but deafness separates you from people, and this is so true.”

With 1 in 10 of us being exposed to dangerous noise levels on a regular basis as noise in gym classes, jump jam sessions, at work, on the farm and at concerts often exceeding safe sound levels, the rising risk to New Zealanders is of grave concern to Lee Schoushkoff, the CEO of the Pindrop Foundation.

Lee Schoushkoff has seen firsthand the struggles so many New Zealanders living in a life of silence face.

“The social isolation and loneliness that people experience as a result of their hearing loss is devastating. Many of our clients have lost their jobs and businesses, lost friends and their family relationships are often becoming strained. And it doesn’t have to be this way.

Cochlear Implants are a hearing solution which can restore hearing for the many New Zealanders who are suffering with severe to profound hearing loss. The Million Ear challenge is about getting people to think about the gift of sound, how fantastic it is and how important it is to look after their hearing.”

The Million Ear Challenge which runs from the 14th-30th November is an interactive competition, where participants go online to and share their favourite sounds, songs and music while learning facts about hearing and hearing solutions.

Notes to Editor:
1. The Pindrop Foundation is a New Zealand charity supporting severely hearing impaired adults into a hearing world through cochlear implant technology and services
2. A cochlear implant is different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids turn up the volume by amplifying sounds to make them easier for damaged ears to detect. Cochlear implants bypass the damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the hearing (auditory) nerve.
3. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to excessive noise is the major avoidable cause of permanent hearing loss worldwide [1997]. Experts agree that exposure to sound levels over 85 decibels will damage hearing over time.
4. Music played at clubs, gigs and bars can be well over this level. As a guide, if a person has to shout to be heard by someone two meters away, the music could be dangerously loud if they are exposed to it regularly or for a long time.
5. Listening to an MP3 Player at high volumes over time can cause permanent damage to hearing.
6. Noise induced hearing loss is reaching epidemic proportions with up to 1 in 6 people affected by hearing loss. ( Accessed October 2nd 2011)
7. 10% of us (400,000) are exposed to dangerous levels of noise on a regular basis. ( Accessed October 2nd 2011)

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