Lions Grant Funds Hearing Conservation Program

Published 3:32 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2011

“Can you hear me now?” The organizers and sponsors of a recent hearing conservation program aimed at children hope the answer to that question will be “Yes!” and that the message of “turn down the volume” will stick with area fourth graders throughout their lives.

With the help of a $5,000 grant to the Farmville Lions Club from the Walter Payne Foundation in Richmond, Longwood University graduate students Andrew Hockenbery and Allison Chaplin designed an interactive program for Prince Edward County fourth graders explaining how hearing works, the common sources of hearing loss, the effects of noise, and ways to protect hearing. Hockenbery and Chaplin are enrolled in Longwood's graduate program in communication sciences and disorders. They were assisted in the presentation by fellow students Courtney Zuber and Megan Cunningham.

“This experience was important to all involved and presented a great opportunity for Longwood and the Lions Club to make a difference in the community, as well as to educate kids about a topic that had not been introduced before,” said Hockenbery.

Chaplin added, “I was excited to work on this project because I felt like I could make the information relevant to elementary school students, provide them with important information, but still make it fun for them. By making it interactive and fun, the kids really were able to learn about hearing and how to protect their ears.”

Dr. Bill Schall, chair of the Farmville Lions Hearing Committee and former dean of Longwood's College of Education and Human Services, proposed the idea of a hearing conservation program to Dr. Lissa Power de-Fur, director of the Longwood Center for Communication, Literacy, and Learning (LCCLL) and a certified speech-language pathologist.

“What the Farmville Lions Club is doing with hearing conservation would have been impossible without the Payne Foundation grant, the cooperation of the Prince Edward County School System, and the professional support received from Longwood University,” said Dr. Schall. “This is an important message to get out to our children because once hearing has been damaged it cannot be repaired.”

“Longwood's Communication Sciences and Disorders program was delighted to have Dr. Schall contact us about the development of the hearing conservation program,” said Dr. Power de-Fur. “Recent research has demonstrated a 30 percent rise in hearing loss in young adults, typically the population with the best hearing. This hearing loss is most likely due to noise exposure, and this presentation creates an opportunity to make our young people more aware of hearing loss and protecting their hearing. It was a wonderful opportunity for our graduate students, who have submitted this initiative as a poster session at the annual conference of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.”

For additional information about the Farmville Lions Club Hearing Conservation Project and hearing aid assistance, call the Prince Edward County Board of Social Services (392-3113) or Dr. Schall (392-1752). The Farmville Lions Club collects unused hearing aids for distribution to those in need. Hearing aids can be placed in any Lions eyeglass collection box or given to any Lions Club member.