Nov 2017 New Zealand Herald
An Auckland schoolgirl is over the moon after winning a trip to Austria with her ideas to help people affected by hearing loss. Olivia Strang, 8, will join six children from other countries next year in Innsbruck, Austria, at the headquarters of MED-EL, a leading provider of hearing implant systems.
The Wai o Taiki Bay local had bilateral cochlear implants after completely losing her hearing when she was about 18-months-old. Her submission for MED-EL's Ears for Ideas competition was one of seven winning entries worldwide. The competition challenged children aged 6 to 15 to create a piece of artwork showing a creation to improve life for people living with hearing loss.
Olivia's entry had four ideas, including a hat with a solar panel to charge her processors. Another invention included a gadget to connect her implants to the smoke alarms in her home, when she removed her processors at night. Olivia said she was "really, really excited" about the win. The family had helped her brainstorm, she said, and she had wanted to come up with ideas to help people with hearing difficulties in instances like a house fire. "Because what if there's a fire, then how would you wake up, or how would you wake to an alarm in the morning?” Olivia's father Richard Strang said a house fire had stressed his daughter in years gone by.
For Strang, finding out his daughter was one of the competition winners was a proud moment.
The 8-year-old was still catching up from two years without hearing as a baby but he her father described her as "relentlessly positive”. "She entered the submission months and months ago so we had been trying to downplay it. But she kept asking about it.” Strang said he or his wife Alice would head along on the trip at the beginning of April next year. The winners would have the opportunity to see how MED-El's inventors produced the company's gadgets at the Austrian headquarters. They would also get the chance to learn about the science of hearing loss. "It'll certainly be a great adventure and i think she's old enough to really learn from it," Strang said.