“John’s Safe Space” opens at FLSD

Firelands Local Schools has partnered with the John C. Haney Foundation to create a special designated room to be used by students at Firelands High School and Firelands Middle School.

This area, “John’s Safe Space” (JSP) was created for students who are struggling. We understand that our students balance a tremendous workload, coupled with pandemic fallout. At any given time they manage academics, athletics, mental health issues, work responsibilities and sometimes a difficult social and home life. We are proud to add this opportunity as another available resource for our students. 

The JSP room is a safe environment where students can calmly decompress and regain focus. The room features a couch, low lighting, calming colors, a fish tank, sensory activities and an overall positive atmosphere.

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This area is named after John C. Haney, a graduate of Fairview Park High School. Haney went on to Baldwin Wallace University, where he was a defensive lineman on the Yellow Jackets football team. Unknown to family and friends, Haney suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness. Sadly, after graduating from college in 2017, Haney’s untreated mental health illness led to his eventual suicide.

John C. Haney’s senior picture hangs outside of the JSP room.

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John’s parents, Beth and Rick Haney started the John Charles Haney Memorial Foundation in 2018 to bring awareness to mental health issues and to support individuals who are struggling. They want students to understand that, “It’s ok to not be ok.” Since the inception of this foundation, they have installed 15 JSP rooms. Firelands High School and Firelands Middle School will house their 16th install.

Firelands Superintendent  Mr. Mike Von Gunten was first made aware of this important mission at a meeting that was focused on teen depression and suicide. From there, he worked with Mr. Rick Haney to bring this opportunity to Firelands. “We are fortunate to have this partnership with the John C. Haney Foundation. Our students will be able to utilize this relaxation room if they experience situations that can be better serviced in a calming environment.”

Mr. Mike Von Gunten, Superintendent, Mr. Rick Haney, Founder of JSP and Mr. Danny Smith, JSP Assistant.

Students are able to use the space by checking in with Mrs. Pierson in the student services office. 


The John C. Haney foundation aims to bring awareness to mental health illness. They  provided funding for the space. Additional information about the foundation can be found here.