40 years ago, a group of brave individuals came together to form the Southern Tier Independence Center. They were like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, each with their own unique skills and strengths, working together towards a common goal: to fight for the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.
Just like Dorothy, STIC embarked on a journey to find the way to the Emerald City, where they hoped to find justice and equality. Along the way, they faced many challenges and obstacles, but never gave up.
Here are some of the accomplishments of STIC, as seen through the lens of the Wizard of Oz:
The Scarecrow: Advocating for Education
The Scarecrow was always searching for knowledge and understanding. In the same way, STIC fought for the right to education for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of their abilities. Thanks to their efforts, laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed, which ensures that children with disabilities receive the support they need to succeed in school.
The Tin Man: Accessible Infrastructure
The Tin Man had a heart of gold and was always looking out for others. STIC advocated for accessible infrastructure, like sidewalks, buildings, curb cuts and transportation, so that people with disabilities could move around independently and safely. Today, thanks to their efforts, we see more ramps, elevators, and accessible public transportation options than ever before.
The Cowardly Lion: Breaking Down Barriers to Community-Based Services and Empowering People Along the Way
The Cowardly Lion may have been afraid, but he was still brave enough to face his fears. STIC fought for deinstitutionalizing people with disabilities, successfully advocating to close group homes and Broome Developmental Center. STIC worked to break down the stigma surrounding disability, challenging the harmful stereotypes and attitudes that people with disabilities face, and that have kept them segregated in institutions.
Dorothy & Toto: Advocating for Civil and Human Rights
Dorothy was a determined and resourceful leader, always standing up for what was right. STIC fought for legal protections for people with disabilities, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a comprehensive civil rights law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public accommodations, state and local government, transportation, and more. Thanks to these efforts, people with disabilities are able to fully participate in society and access the same opportunities as everyone else.
Just like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, STIC faced many challenges along the way, but we persevered and achieved great things. Thanks to hard work and dedication, we are moving closer and closer to a world where people with disabilities are valued, included, and empowered to live their best lives and access their world.
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