Bundesliga youth team player and ambassador for Sonova’s brand Phonak Simon Ollert is paying a visit to the Hear the World Foundation’s partner project in Santo Domingo. The foundation has teamed up with the Centro Cristiano de Servicios Médicos aid organization to invite 20 Dominican children with hearing loss to share their experiences before enjoying a game of football. Their common goal for the event is to help children with hearing loss make progress in their personal development and have the self-confidence to follow their ambitions.
“I’d like to use my story as an example to show the children at the aid project in the Dominican Republic just what you can achieve despite hearing loss, and help boost their self-confidence and strengthen their belief in their own abilities. It’s a goal that’s really important to me and one I have already pursued with my first international soccer camp for children with hearing loss, which I organized in cooperation with Phonak,” explains Simon Ollert. He is the only professional soccer player with profound hearing loss in the German-speaking countries: the 19-year-old has been a member of the youth squad at FC Ingolstadt since the summer of 2015, the same year they were promoted to the top flight of the German Bundesliga.
In December 2016, Simon Ollert visited a project run by the Centro Cristiano de Servicios Médicos (CCSM) that the Hear the World Foundation has been supporting and supplying with hearing aids, audiological equipment and expertise since 2010. The project helps to provide access to hearing care for Dominican people on low to middle incomes.
The participation of representatives from the Swiss and German embassies has brought the visit some VIP backing – the diplomats were also hoping to find out more about the current progress of the Hear the World Foundation’s aid project and lend their support to youth football in the Dominican Republic.
The 20 children who attended with their parents enjoyed an exciting schedule of supplementary activities and had the opportunity to quiz Simon Ollert on his life as a professional soccer player: the event began with a surprise for the children and a screening of the award-winning film about Simon’s story.
During the visit, Nicole Hunter-Diaz, the CCSM project leader, invited all the participants to share their experiences of hearing and hearing loss, and she answered questions parents had about dealing with hearing loss in children. As she explains, “information evenings like this for parents are extremely important for our project work – parents have a considerable influence on the linguistic development of their children.
The high point of the visit was a soccer trials training session and a match with Simon Ollert and players from Bauger FC, the local soccer side. The club is supporting the visit as part of its youth development program.
“Simon Ollert’s visit gives a real lift to our project work and will promote the exchange of ideas between parents, children, and the aid project. It will also be an opportunity for the children to work on their self-confidence and learn to trust in their own abilities,” says Sarah Kreienbühl, who is a board member of the Hear the World Foundation and a member of the Management Board at Sonova (until 09/2017).