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‘John’s Safe Place’ opens at Independence Middle School in honor of college grad who died from suicide in 2017

John's Safe Place opens at Independence Middle School
John's Safe Place opens at Independence Middle School(Source: Independence Local Schools)
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 10:07 AM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A special calming room that allows students to reset mentally if they are feeling overwhelmed throughout the day has opened at Independence Middle School.

“John’s Safe Place” features a couch, soothing lights and colors, sensory activities, a fish tank, and more with hopes that the space “will be a place of comfort, a place to relax, practice stress management techniques, and support one another when feeling anxious.”

John’s Safe Place was made possible through a partnership with the John C. Haney Foundation, started to honor Rick and Beth Haney’s son. The Fairview Park High School alumni died from suicide in 2017, no more than a year after he graduated college.

“The moment we heard about this amazing foundation I felt compelled to research it and see if this is something that the IMS community would benefit from,” Independence Middle School Principal Jamie Vanek said. “It took only seconds of speaking with both Rick and Beth to know that this needed to be made a reality as soon as possible.”

The special room officially opened on Dec. 2 at Independence Middle School with a visit from the Haneys themselves.

“You are now part of the John C. Haney Foundation family,” Rick Haney said. “We hope this room brings hope to your school community, that your students know their school does care about them and if they ever have problems or just need to take a break, they can feel free to talk about those problems and find this room to be a safe place for them.”

The Haney family has created numerous rooms at local Northeast Ohio schools following consultations with mental health experts and a Cleveland Clinic psychologist.

“Through the kindness of their hard work and efforts countless students will benefit for many years to come,” Vanek added.

The district hopes to add another safe room at the high school in the near future.

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