"It’s Our Story Brings New Meaning to the American Flag and Independence Day"

As the Fourth of July has recently been celebrated, a new kind of American flag should be introduced. The “Story Flag” is a 12-foot by 20-foot version of the American Flag that is currently touring the United States. As the tour continues, it leads up to the 20th anniversary of the signing of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Story Flag is a modern piece of art that captures the meaning of the “It’s Our Story” project. The project is being led by Scott Cooper, whose son has Muscular Dystrophy.

“It’s Our Story” is a video history project that uncovers the power, pride, and challenges of people living with disabilities in America. Mr. Cooper’s son was so impacted by a History Day project on Justin Dart, Jr., that it served as inspiration for him to start “It’s Our Story” and share that power with others. The late Justin Dart, Jr. traveled across the country during the 1980s and collected over 5,000 testimonials. He brought these testimonials back to Congress to show the barriers that people with disabilities faced, proving a need for the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 to be passed. The Story Flag showcases hundreds of handmade “story sticks,” which Native Americans once used to pass along stories through generations. Each story stick represents a person with a disability who has shared their story through a video portrait. These video portraits show the everyday challenges and successes that people with disabilities experience. Through word of mouth, the project has identified and interviewed over eight hundred and fifty people with disabilities. These story sticks are attached to the flag with a goal of reaching one thousand upon its completion.

“I feel compelled to capture this history but really don't understand why I'm so compelled. It just seems like the right thing to do,” states Cooper.

On July 26, 2010, a virtual social network will premiere on the “It’s Our Story” Web site. This modern approach makes it possible to share information to future leaders and the communities they serve and will be easily accessible for people with disabilities.

Mr. Cooper states that he has a growing to-do list ahead of him in regards to this project. He adds that if anyone feels the work he is doing is important and would like to assist him, to please contact him directly.

For more information on “It’s Our Story’s” oral history project or to become involved, please visit www.itsourstory.org

Developed and written by Suasion. Published in "Living Well With A Disability E-Newsletter," July 2009 edition.