By Vicki Little
Amanda was at that point in her life where everything begins. She had recently moved into her own first place, which she had just finished painstakingly decorating with help from her boyfriend. She was excited about majoring in music production at CU Denver. Amanda was young, vibrant, and full of life. And the one thing she loved more than anything was music. Music wasn’t just something she enjoyed, it was a part of her. She even experienced a phenomena called synesthesia, where she could literally see the music. Salsa music sparked Amanda to see bright yellows and reds, where a waltz would inspire blues and purples to dance in her head. Music was what made Amanda happy. Tragically, it was also what would ultimately cause Amanda to leave this world far too soon.
Headphones were a part of Amanda’s daily attire, as they are for many young people. Every day, people put them on when they work out, when they walk or run, or when they just relax. Some people even wear them when they drive. It seems innocent enough, but when they’re on, the world around us is basically muted.
One day, Amanda was walking to work. She had her headphones on, as usual, and she was lost in the world of music. She never heard the train’s horn blare its warning. She never heard the rumbling of the train rolling down the tracks. Beautiful, young Amanda was struck and killed on August 13, 2016 — only 49 days before her 21st birthday.
“We live in a world of distractions. It is easier to be distracted now than any other time in history. If you can’t hear your surroundings, you are deaf to what is happening around you.” -Stan Bush
Unfortunately, the number of accidents that occur while someone is wearing headphones is increasing at a horrifying rate. And it isn’t just near train tracks where kids are in danger. In 2016, Kids Safe Worldwide observed 39,000 middle and high school students walking in school zones and found that 44% of them were wearing headphones or earbuds. And it isn’t just kids. Police officers and safety experts are constantly advising adults not to wear headphones when they are walking because if someone is not paying attention to their surroundings, they may be more prone to being mugged or attacked. They also may miss hearing a car when crossing a street, or fail to hear someone on a bicycle trying to pass. Music may be comforting, especially when we’re alone, but if both ears are covered, then this comfort can quickly turn into a deadly mistake.
“Hopefully, sharing her story might help you with a teachable moment for someone you care about.” -Ashley Kirchner
Amanda’s dad, Ashley, along with her mom, Sue, and stepdad, Mark, started the movement #OneEarOut as a way to honor their daughter and prevent this tragedy from happening to others. Ashley just wants people to listen to Amanda’s story. He wants to reach as many people as possible and encourage parents to have ongoing discussions with their children about the importance of being able to hear what is happening around them. Keeping one ear free from music may be the only way to hear a potential danger — whether it be getting hit by a car or train, getting jumped by a bully, or getting attacked by a stranger.
Don’t let this happen to you or someone you love. Keep #OneEarOut while walking, running, and cycling — and be sure your friends and family do as well.
Please take a selfie with #OneEarOut and share your pledge to save lives.
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