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Bluffton University junior Amber Swaney is interested in spreading awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities. So the dietetics major from Harrod, Ohio, is doing her part on the Bluffton campus.

Swaney has led an effort to bring Abilities Plus Potential Leads to Excellence (A.P.P.L.E.), a local disability awareness program, to the university. The presentation, at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 27, in Founders Hall, is free and open to the public.amber

The Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities presents A.P.P.L.E., in which people with disabilities share their stories and listeners learn "The Ten Commandments of Communicating with People with Disabilities."

Last year, Dr. Alex Sider, an assistant professor of religion at Bluffton, brought the program to his medical ethics class. After seeing it, Katherine Dickson, Bluffton’s director of career development, worked with the Allen County board to develop internships—the first of which was served by Swaney last summer.

She worked with Kristen Miller, who heads A.P.P.L.E., shadowing her at first and then helping schedule the program’s presentations in the community. Now she has helped book it at Bluffton with the aid of Sider and Dickson, whom she calls "my go-to people" and "really passionate on this subject as well."

With A.P.P.L.E.’s assistance, "I want people to be able to know how to treat everyone, whether disabled or not, the same," says Swaney, who eventually wants to use her dietetics degree to help people with disabilities. On campus, she is active in Peer Awareness Leaders, a group that aims to educate fellow students about alcohol and other issues affecting them.

"I hope people are able to understand that even though others are disabled, they have the same feelings and ideas as us."


Bluffton public relations, 3/14/11