New learning program will teach NWT students about ‘hearing health’

Sound Sense NWT aims to teach students in grades four to six to protect their hearing.

Sound Sense NWT is coming to a classroom near you, and aims to teach students in grades four to six to protect their hearing.

The Sound Sense learning program, which started as a pilot project in 12 schools across Ontario, has made its way into British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and now, the Northwest Territories. It aims to educate kids about the effects of noise pollution so they can take the necessary steps to protect their ears.

According to the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, it’s estimated that 13 per cent of children and youth in Canada have some degree of hearing loss, and they estimate that the percentage in indigenous communities is much higher. According to their data, 30 per cent of children in indigenous communities, and in the NWT, suffer from some form of hearing loss.

Cindy Gordon, the program director for the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association in Edmonton, told CKLB that she doesn’t know why the rate is much higher in the NWT, but says it could be attributed to a lack of education surrounding the topic, poor access to healthcare, or more exposure to loud sounds.

When it comes to loud sounds, anything above 85 dB can cause damage. Gordon said, “It’s too much after 85 dB, and 85 dB is not a lot of volume. 85 dB could be a vacuum cleaner, believe or not, power saws, power tools… snowmobiles are probably at about 110 dB of volume. With anything over 85 dB after seven minutes, damage is gonna be done.”

With continuously advancing technology and machinery, human kind is exposed to more sound pollution than ever before, and the effects of exposure are causing hearing problems of epidemic proportions. Gordon said, “What used to take 60 years for the ramifications of noise… usually by 60 we start to see that, but now we’re seeing it at age 30…  World Health Organization says hearing loss is at an epidemic right now.”

The first two Sound Sense NWT sessions will take place in Yellowknife classrooms on Wednesday. Gordon says the organization plans to train facilitators to help roll the sessions out in schools across the NWT.

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