Sound Sense – NWT

The Cause

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a form of hearing loss that is caused by prolonged overexposure to loud noise. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), there are 1.1 billion children and youth worldwide currently at risk for this preventable hearing health
issue and this number is only expected to increase. Researchers call it a “hidden epidemic”. One in five Canadians suffers from some degree of hearing loss. When examining the hearing health of Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) peoples, the numbers are worse. Studies indicating hearing loss rates of more than double that of the non-FNMI population. Nearly 13% of Canadian children currently experience some degree of hearing loss, and in some FNMI communities, this number increases to as high as 30%. Some of the causes are the result of the increased use of personal devices such as smart phones and music players.

In the North’s smaller communities, other sources of noise associated with more rural or traditional lifestyles can also damage a young person’s hearing permanently. A chainsaw can generate 120 decibels; even a small .22-caliber rifle can produce noise around 140 dB. Sound Sense program teaches children about NIHL and how it can be prevented. But in order to deliver a program that addresses and creates behaviour change among FNMI children and their families, a meaningful understanding and acknowledgement of their local community and culture is essential. The CHHA-YK would deliver Sound Sense, a live classroom presentation, to middle school students in every school in the Northwest Territories over two years beginning in January, 2019, and continue the cycle of returning to each school to deliver the program to new cohorts of students.

The funding we are requesting would help pay for two pilot projects, in Yellowknife and one of the smaller communities, in October 2018, to show the merit and feasibility of Sound Sense to funding sources capable of sustaining the program annually.

Long-term, sustained program funding will pay for the training of local program presenters and the further implementation of Sound Sense in the territory’s schools. This support will come as both money and in-kind services and products from local service organizations, national foundations, territorial government departments, school boards, non-governmental and industry safety agencies, and private sector businesses with an interest in workplace safety particularly related to hearing loss.

Who Will it Benefit?

-Children in every school in the territory;
-educators who will face fewer children with hearing loss and better capabilities for paying attention;
-employers who will inherit new generations of workers with the awareness and training to avoid hearing loss not only in their personal lives, but also in their approach to risky workplace situations where hearing may be damaged. They will see the benefits in fewer lost person/days of work;
-the territory's health system, by virtue of fewer children needing treatment for NIHL and fewer workers needing treatment for NIHL from workplace incidents