STERLING (CBS) — Austin Foley of Millbury loves to look at farm animals. So when the 21-year-old who was born with cerebral palsy was denied access to Davis Farmland in Sterling because of his age, he was heartbroken.
On Friday, Austin came to Davis Farmland in Sterling with his two adult caregivers.
The farm has from goats and pigs to alligators and camels. Austin was excited to see it all and its therapeutic for him. “To find something he can do and enjoys is amazing,” Austin’s mother, Kelley Foley explained.
But when he filled out a COVID-19 waiver which asked for his age, he was told he was not allowed inside.
“He cried. I think he was humiliated,” Foley said.
The farm only allows adults access if they are with someone who is 12 years old or younger.
“The one rule at Farmland is you must have a child with you 12 years or under. That’s it. That’s the whole story right there. There’s no discrimination. For 20 years it’s been like that,” said Davis Farmland Owner Larry Davis.
Austin actually did gain access to the farm after an anonymous family invited him as their guest. But Foley said by that time, the experience was ruined.
“He was too upset,” his mother said.
Davis Farmland is taking hits on social media since the incident, but they are sticking by their policy.
They also said Austin is welcome back any times he wants as long as there is a 12-year-old in the group.
“Any child who comes in here, that is 12 or under, regardless of their physical or mental capacities, they are welcomed with open arms,” Davis said.
Foley disagrees. “I’m not asking them to break the rule. It’s a rule, OK I shouldn’t have gone for the last eight years, I didn’t know. I’m asking them to review this policy,” she said.