SMITHS STATION, Ala. (WRBL) – Aaliyah Swinney loves to sing. She loves Jesus.  She gets straight As in school and has dreams and aspirations. That’s what she wants people to see. Aaliyah is blind and has spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. She doesn’t like it when people look at her and see only a wheelchair.

“People who have disabilities are not pitiful. They’re actually powerful,” said Aaliyah Swinney.

Aaliyah relayed those feelings to her mother who wants to change the narrative for how people approach those with disabilities. Aaliyah’s special insight led her mom to write a book. Alicia Swinney says she got the name for the book ‘Sweet baby Girl’ from the way people speak to Aaliyah. The book is a sort of  road map to teach people to see beyond someone’s challenges and approach them with a respectful tone of voice.  

“Like your tone matters especially with someone like Aaliyah who’s blind, she may not see your facial expression or see your body expression but she hears your tone,” said Alicia Swinney, Aaliyah’s mom, author

And the baby talk dripping with pity is not what Swinney wants her daughter to feed off.

“I, in my household we say power over pity and that’s what I would love for everyone to kind of adopt for her,” said Alicia Swinney.

Aaliyah has chores just like her brother Silas. She dreams of someday becoming a piano teacher, Braille teacher, motivational speaker and a nurse. 

“Even though she has some disabilities, she’s still powerful, she still can do whatever she wants to do in life and she gets around just like everyone else,” said Alicia Swinney.

The book signing for “Sweet Baby Girl” is Saturday, September 17, 2022 at the Columbus Public Library located at 3000 Macon Road. It will be held in Synovus Rooms A and B from 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm.