Grammy-nominated artist and philanthropist Aloe Blacc traveled to his hometown of Orange County California yesterday to play a private concert at the high school of the winners of Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Listen Carefully video contest. In November, Listen Carefully, an educational program to raise awareness about the increase of noise-induced hearing loss, launched a national contest challenging middle school and high school students (ages 13-18) to create public service announcements (PSAs) about the dangers of high-volume sounds. Recently released data from the World Health Organization lists that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk for hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices.
The contest was created in response to data showing that noise-induced hearing loss, which currently affects 1 in 6 American teens, increased 30 percent in teens over the past decade. Ken Nakama, Dan Lesser and Joshua Maslaki from Woodbridge High School in Irvine, California won the popular vote with “Protect Your Ears”. From Crean Lutheran, Jenny Kim, Matthew Orgil and Tyler Koski took second place with “The Meaning of Sound”, while “Effects” by Thomas Le from Rutherford High School in Panama City, FL took third place. All three teams attended the show and were recognized by Steven Sawalich, the Senior Director of Global Media and Philanthropy at Starkey Hearing Technologies and Chris and Kyle Massey, the boisterous brother duo who MC’d the show. Caroline Sunshine, a long-time Starkey Hearing Foundation supporter, who has experienced hearing loss due to a medical issue, met with the winning teams prior to the show to congratulate them on their win and to encourage them to keep spreading the news about the dangers associated with high-volume sounds.
While on stage singing some of his biggest hits like “The Man” and “Wake Me Up”, Aloe encouraged students to use the hearing protection. “Whether I am in the studio or performing on stage, my hearing is critical to my success as an artist,” said Aloe Blacc. “Not only does my ability to hear help me have a better technical performance, but hearing the audience sing along to the music helps elevate the energy of the show, ” he continued. Each of the students and teachers in attendance received reusable hearing protection as they entered the venue.
While often preventable, noise-induced hearing loss is permanent,” said Tani Austin, Co-Founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation. The success of this contest and continued support from artists like Aloe Blacc will help us educate kids and young adults on the importance of hearing protection and risks associated with exposure to loud sounds.
LOVE this cause! And wow, what an amazing turnout!
Images via Getty Images