This story was offered by Lela Kennedy, STEP, Inc., Montana as the class discussed Chapter 6, Legal and Liability Issues and specifically, safety not risk management. It seems an appropriate story to share as we celebrate the holidays and determine how individuals in our care can participate.

Donald turned 21 in Aug 2015. His guardian, (a kind and wonderful woman) was opposed to him celebrating his 21st birthday by drinking alcohol. Our organization advocated for him to celebrate his birthday the way he chose and recognized that many youth use alcohol as a “rite of passage”. The residential services manager took him to the doctor specifically to ask his primary care physician to see if alcohol would affect any of it other (heart) meds. The doctor cleared him and Donald, with support of the doctor, staff and (finally) his guardian had a margarita on his birthday. He took about 3 sips and stated it wasn’t for him. However, he enjoyed the opportunity and even today will have a drink with dinner if he feels like it.

To this day that drink is simply 2-3 sips but it remains an informed choice that he makes on his own.