People First of Tifton is sponsoring a "Long Road Home Celebration" today in honor of the 15th anniversary of the Olmstead Decision. The community is invited to march with them, starting at 8 a.m. from Northside Primary School to Fulwood Park.
At the park, there will be speeches from Mayor Jamie Cater and Diversified Enterprises Director Marion Curry, along with members of the local People First group, a self-advocacy organization that is open to anyone in the community with a disability. There will also be food and music.
Hope Brady, community support specialist at Diversified Enterprises, said the Olmstead Decision was a Supreme Court ruling that stated that individuals in institutions should be returned to their own community and live meaningful lives. Last year, Cater signed a proclamation declaring June 13 Long Road Home Day in Tifton.
The Olmstead Decision of 1999 gave individuals with disabilities the choice to live outside of an institution, which began with two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had mental illness and developmental disabilities. They were voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit in the state-run Georgia Regional Hospital. After being told that they could move to a community-based program by mental health professionals following treatment, the women, however, remained confined in the institution for several years after the initial treatment was concluded.
They filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for release from the hospital.
On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the ADA, according to the Department of Justice.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.