Sound Sense:Hearing Health for Elementary Students

Several years ago, THFC staff and researchers were becoming increasingly concerned about the rising incidence of noise-induced hearing loss in young people. After reviewing the emerging consensus in a range of international research and examining approaches that other jurisdictions had taken to the issue, THFC developed a new and innovative bilingual program called Sound Sense: Save Your Hearing for the Music! /Oui à l’ouie: ménagez vos oreilles pour la musique!

Sound Sense uses an interactive, 50-minute session to educate children (and through them their families and communities) in elementary school about the dangers of noise exposure.

As children move towards adolescence, developing healthy hearing habits is crucial to protecting their future hearing. Sound Sense / Oui à l’ouie talks to students in Grade four through an in-class presentation with an exciting, animated video that illustrates the value of hearing in their lives, how hearing works, and how loud listening can irrevocably damage it. Students who receive Sound Sense learn how to protect their hearing from noise-induced hearing loss, a permanent type of hearing loss which is 100% preventable.

THFC began its initial work on Sound Sense in 2002, when it conducted an extensive, two-year pilot project in 12 urban and rural schools in Ontario. Initial feedback from this pilot showed that students had an almost complete lack of awareness of how overexposure to noise could impact their hearing. The pilot also allowed THFC to fine-tune its presentation and confirmed that its use of music, high-impact graphics, videos, and interactive demonstrations were effective tools in engaging the students.

Building on the success of the pilot, Sound Sense entered into a partnership with the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2005. With this initial support from one of Ontario’s largest public foundations, THFC began to deliver a world-class program to public and separate elementary schools in Ontario, targeting Grade 6. By the end of Trillium’s initial support in June of 2007, students in at least 3,000 schools across Ontario received the Sound Sense program and heard its proactive message about hearing health.

Thanks to further support by companies and organizations like the RBC Financial Group, TD Financial Group, and TELUS, as well a local organizations across the country, Sound Sense is being delivered in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. THFC continues to seek additional sponsors to fulfill its mandate of delivering the Sound Sense hearing awareness message to children, families, and communities across the country.

What teachers have said about Sound Sense …

  • “The presenter/facilitator was awesome! The video was relevant, humorous, and the students enjoyed it.”
  • “Very interesting, captured the attention of the audience. I liked the video.”
  • “Very effective and kid-friendly.”
  • “This is a great message to get out to kids, even at a younger age!”?
  • “Definitely worth having. It did make the students very aware of how their listening habits can affect them long term.”

What opinion leaders have said about Sound Sense …

“The (Trillium) Foundation’s mission is to build healthy and vibrant communities throughout Ontario … through investments in community-based initiatives. The Sound Sense program fulfills these aspirations and the program has been very successful to date. Our grant to THFC has met, if not exceeded, its objectives. THFC has also demonstrated capable management of the project and produced high quality materials through our investment …The Ontario Trillium Foundation is very proud to have come on board in the early stages of this very successful initiative.”
L. Robin Cardozo
CEO, Ontario Trillium Foundation

“There is a great need to integrate this program into the school curriculum…I, and many others, are happy to endorse it and strongly encourage … integrating this program of proactive “health promotion” for our students.”
Cam Jackson
MPP, Burlington

“The research about hearing loss – and in particular noise-induced hearing loss – is so compelling! To think that (such a high percentage) of school-aged children already suffer from hearing problems! I know that our teachers will be keen to be part of the program that The Hearing Foundation has designed. I look forward to working with schools in Vancouver as the children have the opportunity to learn more about how they can protect themselves from hearing loss and I am convinced this knowledge will change their behaviours.”
Dr. Valerie Overgaard, Ph.D.
Vancouver School Board

“It is my hope that the Ministry of Health Promotion will keep in mind this fascinating program as we move forward with our goals of promoting healthy living in our dynamic education system.”
Mario G. Racco
MPP, Thornhill

For more information on Sound Sense, email or contact us at 416-364-4060 or 866-432-7968.