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Over the last 10 years, our research has show that people with intellectual disabilities have more serious health problems than the general population.  In one study of 3,500 Special Olympics athletes, 30 percent failed hearing tests. This rate is up to six times as high as rates seen in the general population.

Fortunately we have many great partners and volunteer health care providers to help us battle these health disparities for our athletes.  Last week in Minnesota, one such partner, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, stepped up to the plate to help 22 local athletes hear better with custom fit hearing aides.

It’s a amazing story that you need to read and watch here.

A couple highlights:

“We don’t believe in disabilities. We believe in ability. Everybody has it and we have to find it and use it and maximize it,” Starkey Hearing Foundation founder Bill Austin.

“It’s a confidence builder. They can be engaged in conversations and you’ll hear the world around you. All of a sudden they are much more participatory and active in their surroundings because they can hear what’s going on,” Special Olympics Minnesota CEO Dave Dorn

“It means I’m going to be able to be a lot more independent and do more things,” Special Olympics Minnesota athlete Nell Coonen-Korte.

When asked if she thought better hearing would also make her a better athlete, she didn’t hesitate.

“Yes, definitely,” she said.

This slideshow of pictures tells it all:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One thought on “The Gift of Hearing

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