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German professional soccer player Simon Ollert is set to show children in the Dominican Republic just what you can achieve despite hearing loss

Bundesliga youth team player and brand ambassador for Phonak Simon Ollert is paying a visit to the Swiss 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.

On December 10, 2016, Simon Ollert will be visiting 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 are 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.

Encouraging words and shared experiences

The 20 children expected to attend with their parents can look forward to an exciting schedule of supplementary activities and an opportunity to quiz Simon Ollert on his life as a professional soccer player: the event will begin 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, will be inviting all the participants to share their experiences of hearing and hearing loss, and she will be available to answer any questions parents may have 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.

Soccer game

The high point of the visit will be 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 and is looking forward to the children and the celebrity soccer player getting involved.

"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 both a board member of the Hear the World Foundation and a member of the Management Board at Sonova.

Facts about the Dominican Republic

·        Unemployment rate: 14.3 percent/highest rate in Latin America, average: 7.6 percent

·        State spending on the health sector as a % of GDP: 5.6 percent

·        Goal shared by the CCSM and the Hear the World Foundation's project: to supply 2,000 children with hearing aids within 5 years.

About the Hear the World Foundation

By supporting the charitable Hear the World Foundation, Sonova is campaigning for equal opportunities and a better quality of life for people with hearing loss. As a leading provider of hearing care solutions, Sonova fosters social responsibility and contributes towards a world where everyone has the chance to enjoy good hearing. For instance, the Hear the World Foundation supports disadvantaged people with hearing loss around the world and gets involved in prevention. It focuses particularly on projects for children with hearing loss, to enable them to develop at the appropriate rate for their age. More than 100 celebrity ambassadors, including celebrities such as Cindy Crawford, Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox and Sting champion the Hear the World Foundation.

About the Centro Cristiano de Servicios Médicos

The Centro Cristiano de Servicios Médicos (CCSM), a private non-profit organization founded in 1980 in Santo Domingo aims at providing the Dominican population with first-class yet affordable medical care. The center runs five clinics which are strategically spread across the country in order to improve access to medical care for the rural population. CCSM is known  for  its ophthalmology department but also provides services in audiology, ENT, general medicine, cardiology, orthopedics, general surgery, OB/GYN, urology, gastroenterology, among many others.

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