Independence Middle School Opens New Room in School, “John’s Safe Place”... A Space for Everyone
Independence Middle School now has a room in the building for students to use when they are feeling overwhelmed or just need to take a break. Partnering with John C. Haney Foundation, this new room, called John’s Safe Place, has a couch, low lighting, soothing gray colors, sensory activities, books, smart TV with calming activities, and a fish tank. The room has many inspirational quotes on the walls as well. It is located in the front of the building, next to Principal Jamie Vanek’s office.
It is the hope of the school and foundation that this room will be a place of comfort, a place to relax, practice stress management techniques, and support one another when feeling anxious. It is another opportunity for students to go for safety and comfort during challenging times in their lives and provide them with the ability to ask for support.
The foundation was started by Rick and Beth Haney after their son, John, a Fairview Park High School graduate, took his own life in November 2017, less than a year after he graduated from college. The Haneys have created John's Safe Place, rooms at local schools where students can be open, decompress and find comfort. They were created after Beth took a class on mental health. The couple consulted a Cleveland Clinic psychologist to tailor them just right. This foundation is dedicated to providing support and resources to prevent suicide and the stigma against mental illness.
“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,” said Vanek. “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. These two special people quickly turned into family for the staff, students, and for me personally. Through the kindness of their hard work and efforts countless students will benefit for many years to come. We couldn't be more appreciative of these two very brave and giving people.”
The Haney family visited IMS on December 2 to officially open the new room to the students.
“You are now part of the John C. Haney Foundation family,” said Rick Haney. “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.”
For more information on the John C. Haney Foundation or to donate, go to www.thejchfoundation.com. The District is hoping to add a room to the high school in the near future.
Superintendent Ben Hegedish, IMS Custodian Scott Stasek, Board Member Ron Bernstein, Director of Pupil Services Sandy McCullough, IMS Principal Jamie Vanek, Beth and Rick Haney with grandson Carson.