Above: Rick and Beth Haney sit in “John’s Safe Place” in the Fairview High School/Mayer Middle School building. The Haney family will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, October 6 at 5:30 p.m. prior to the district-wide community building tours of the recently renovated middle and high school campus.
Rick and Beth Haney are honoring the memory of their son, John, a 2012 Fairview High School graduate, with a safe space available to all students at Lewis F. Mayer Middle School and Fairview High School.
In 2017, the Haney family tragically lost their 23-year-old son, John, to suicide. Since, they have started the John C. Haney Memorial Foundation to raise awareness and empower young people to feel comfortable coming forward regarding mental health issues.
“Our vision is all about the John C. Haney Memorial Foundation and we are dedicated to providing support and resources to prevent suicide and the stigma against mental illnesses,” said Rick Haney.
Over the past couple of years the Haney family has facilitated mental health first aid and suicide prevention training to Fairview teachers and staff, provided a scholarship to senior football players, and have supported a student-led project “Think.Feel.Do.Say.Grow.” — a school-wide initiative developed in 2019 to bring more awareness to mental health.
However, they knew they needed to do more. They established the concept of John’s Safe Place: A Space for All to help reduce missed signs and missed opportunities.
A collaboration between their foundation, the school district, and the Cleveland Clinic, the purpose of John’s Safe Place is to have a dedicated space for students to go for comfort and safety during difficult times and provide them with the ability to reach out for counseling and support. “Our goal is to let them know there is hope, and it’s okay not to be okay. We have to do everything we can to help keep people where they need to be,” Rick Haney said.
The Cleveland Clinic has supported the Haney family by providing resources, support, and recommendations for the room’s furnishings and features.
The space includes comfortable seating, a large fish tank, and is painted with a recommended calming paint color of “Comfort Gray.”
Sensory activities, puzzles, adult coloring books, white board to draw or write will also be available for students. Counselors and student mental health education resources will also be available for students.
“This is a groundbreaking project with nothing like it in our area,” said Haney. “It’s a pilot, and we wanted the first to be here in Fairview because this is where John’s heartbeat was.”
A 2012 graduate of Fairview High School, John was a friend to many and enjoyed playing football for the Warriors from 4th to 12th grade and went on to play at the college level for Baldwin Wallace. “John would light up a room whenever he walked in,” said Rick. “And he loved Fairview and he loved being a Warrior.”
The Haneys are planning to collaborate with other schools to create a John’s Safe Place, guided by their three-fold vision to Educate Educators and provide training and programs to assist with early identification and address mental illness; Provide Resources and outlets to youth in Northeast Ohio who are battling depression; and End The Stigma by empowering young people to feel comfortable coming forward regarding mental health issues.
“We are looking forward to creating a wonderful asset for our schools…and we are honored to be a part of that,” Haney said.
Beth Haney has been a toddler teacher at the Early Education Center for 22 years. “I teach the youngest children in this school district as a daycare teacher. We have started with social emotional learning and safe spaces in our classrooms, and the lessons continue when they go to Gilles-Sweet, and when they go to middle and high school. Hopefully our children’s mental health will be a whole lot stronger and healthier because they feel the love and comfort that we are teaching them,” she said.
Her husband added, “Our son’s memory will never die. His life will help others. We need to end the stigma and help people understand it’s okay not to be okay.”
John Charles Haney was a beloved son, brother, teammate, and friend who was born in Fairview Park, OH. John’s first love was the game of football, playing in youth leagues and finishing his career playing college football. He attended Fairview Park High School and Baldwin Wallace University where his infectious personality made him a legend among his peers. Unfortunately, despite the love surrounding John, he was fighting a battle that no one else could have known about. On November 12, 2017, John decided to take his own life. This foundation is dedicated to providing support and resources to prevent suicide and the stigma against mental illnesses.
About the John C. Haney Foundation
Since inception in 2018, The John Charles Haney Memorial Foundation is aimed at helping people across the nation with the mental health stigma that affects millions throughout the country. We use the donations to provide seminars about mental health awareness as well as scholarship awards to deserving individuals who emulate John and the lives of the many he touched. Bringing awareness to Mental Health illnesses is the upmost priority for our organization and we will continue to serve the thousands who are struggling.