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Dangerous Decibels: protecting hearing in wired kids

David Welch

The charity Hearing New Zealand has teamed up with experts from the University of Auckland to deliver ‘Dangerous Decibels’ training in schools around the country so children can understand how and why they need to protect their hearing.

This week, which is Hearing Awareness Week, the charity is also encouraging people to host ‘Silent Breakfast’ events to raise awareness and funds to prevent hearing loss.

Modern technology means today’s kids – and adults – are exposed to unprecedented levels of noise. Around 800,000 Kiwis suffer from some degree of hearing loss with approximately one in six- caused by noise-induced hearing loss, which is completely preventable.

Hearing Awareness Week runs from 1 to 7 March, and Hearing New Zealand’s theme this year is ‘Make Listening Safe’.

Hearing New Zealand National President, Tony Rush, says: There is great need for education around noise-induced hearing loss and how to protect hearing. We live in an increasingly noisy world and with technology now being such a huge part of our lives, we don’t even notice the irreversible effect that our daily technology consumption may be having on our hearing.”

Dr David Welch, Head of Audiology in the University’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, directs the Dangerous Decibels programme and will speak at the Silent Breakfast event that Hearing New Zealand is hosting in Auckland this Sunday to raise funds.

Says Dr Welch: “Loud sound causes irreparable damage to our inner ears, and it is completely preventable in three simple ways: turn down the volume, walk away from the noise source, or wear earplugs or earmuffs.”

Hearing New Zealand is encouraging other people to host their own silent breakfast and pass on collected donations to the charity via a local branch or its Givealittle page. To make the breakfast ‘silent’, invitees could wear earmuffs or protectors for the first 10 minutes to mimic hearing loss, then discuss the experience; a guest could give a short speech in sign language; or someone could measure sound levels at the venue.

“The idea is to foster more understanding and empathy for those living with a hearing loss, while getting people to think about what steps they can take to protect their own and their kids’ hearing at home, school and in the workplace,” says Dr Welch.

Apart from funding the Dangerous Decibels programmes, which has already run in many schools and reached thousands of children, the money raised will go towards visits to music festivals where Hearing New Zealand volunteers will give out free ear plugs and other campaigns to encourage people to protect their hearing in noisy environments.

Dr Welch: “We are excited about our new partnership with Hearing New Zealand. Their committed people and organisation will help to protect thousands of New Zealanders from the devastating effects of hearing loss.”

Silent Breakfast Auckland event details:
Venue: Hearing Auckland, 8 Vincent Ave, Remuera
Date: Sunday 8 March from 9.00-10.30am.
Donations to the Hearing New Zealand Givealittle page.

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