I have a story for you. I joined an adult day program, which I was in only for a week. Toward the end of that week, one day I met a new job coach. On Friday of that week, our group went bowling. It was fun going bowling, but I was getting thirsty so after bowling, I asked the coach if I could go into Starbucks. She said I could go to Starbucks and asked if I minded if she went to Vons while I and the other two clients went to Starbucks. and I said sure, but I didn’t know that according to program policy, and I believe according to the law, that we were not to be left alone or unsupervised since we were in the care of that person. I did not know this point of the law, but a good friend of mine told me that later, and so did my mother.

There were three of us, so another client and I bought our drinks at Starbucks. Then we had to cross this busy street to go back to Vons to meet the job coach. It was both a street and a parking lot as cars were backing out, but also driving on streets. One of the clients was drinking his coffee in the middle of the street. He was oblivious to the traffic. We (another client and I) told him to keep walking. He kept drinking anyway. Then I said, “ Come here! Give me your drink!” He said, “What?” So, I firmly repeated for him to give me his drink again. Then he finally walked across the busy street.

When we finally met up with the coach, I told her that what happened.

It was a funny story as my other client friend and I told it to my parents one night at dinner. But I knew as soon as we started across that busy street in my rickity walker that it was actually a dangerous situation. Handicapped clients should never be left alone without a coach if they are not entirely capable of crossing busy streets safely.

This is my story, which contains a lesson to be learned for people with disabilities or for any child.

A few days later we invited my new friend from the program (not the one who was misbehaving) over for dinner. We told my mom the story. We also talked to the director of the program who asked the job coach if this was true. She lied and said that our story wasn’t true. I think she should have been fired because she broke a rule of the adult program, but also, by denying what we said, she was basically calling my friend and I liars. We had no reason to make up this story, which we innocently told to my parents, not knowing that my mom would probably do something about it. We did not lie, and that job coach did not do her job, and she actually endangered us by leaving us alone while she did a personal errand at Vons on work time.

That job coach is still employed at that adult day program, and my friend and I no longer attend that program. He is finding his own jobs, and my mom and I are taking our time looking for a better program with integrity.

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I am a 25-year old female with cerebral palsy who wants people to know the issues which handicapped people face in today's world. In addition to the everyday challenges which all people face, people with disabilities must grapple with issues of friendships, dating, business relations, safety issues, and a host of other vital matters, beginning with how to get up and get going each day. I want to relate my story, as well as issues faced by others, and invite all readers to respond and interact.

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