"More jobs, more homes, unlock the door!" was chanted by a crowd of locals who participated in Wednesday's Long Road Home Celebration.
The event was sponsored by People First of Tifton, a self-advocacy organization that is open to anyone in the community with a disability. The celebration was done in honor of the 15th anniversary of the Olmstead Decision. Participants marched from Northside Primary School to Fulwood Park, where City Councilman Wes Ehlers presented a proclamation and members of the local People First group and staff with Diversified Enterprises spoke. Friends from Fitzgerald later joined the group.
"We are gathered here for a special reason. This reason is people are in an institution and they're not able to do what they need to do," said Jody Griffin with People First, who led the group in prayer at the park. "In God's name, we hope that these people can be set free from an institution."
Ratiel Shepherd, president of People First, thanked everyone for coming out to the celebration. Diversified Enterprises Director Marion Curry said it was great to be celebrating 15 years of the Olmstead Decision.
"I'm so glad that everybody is coming from the institution and that we're able to be in communities, living together, working together and giving back to our community. Everybody knows how powerful all of you are," she said.
On behalf of Mayor Jamie Cater and the City Council, Ehlers then read a proclamation in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Olmstead Decision. 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.
"I love what I do," said Sharon Fullmore, coordinator of People First, along with Hope Brady.