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Lecture to explore Amish community, photos

ATHENS — A lecture about Amish community leaders and “Life Through Their Lens: a Photo Collection by Amish and Mennonite Community, Volume 1” will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Baker Center Ballroom at Ohio University.

The lecture, one in a series by the Research Division and Center for Campus and Community Engagement at Ohio University, is sponsored by the Center for Appalachia Research in Cancer Education. The book was published by the center.

The event will feature a discussion about the book project and a question and answer session on being Amish.

The first-of-its-kind photo narrative book was published by the center and developed in response to negative stereotypes and false beliefs about the Amish. Amish and Mennonite communities have not had a voice in how their communities are portrayed and have been exploited through photographs and videos.

The book is a collaboration of Melissa Thomas, author, project director and an assistant professor, Family Medicine at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Medicine, her research colleagues and dozens of Amish and Mennonite residents. They spent over four years on the book.

All proceeds of book will fund health programs for Amish and Mennonite women.

“Imagine a project that would allow a community of people to have a voice in describing who they are, and the very weapon that has been used against them–the camera–can be used now as a window into their world, through their eyes, told by their images and stories,” Thomas, said.

She has worked on addressing health disparities for more than 20 years with emphasis on rural and Appalachia Ohio. Thomas has led numerous studies aimed at reducing the burden of cancer through culturally proficient health education programs.

Panelists joining Thomas are Jake Beachy and David Kline, church bishops in Holmes County, home of the world’s largest Amish settlement, photographer Talitha Tarro and editor Margie Hiermer.

Duane Nellis, president of Ohio University, will welcome and introduce the group and will be available during a post-event reception.

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