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Deer Park school sets up "safe haven" for students dealing with stress

Deer Park school sets up "safe haven" for students dealing with stress (WKRC)
Deer Park school sets up "safe haven" for students dealing with stress (WKRC)
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DEER PARK, Ohio (WKRC) - As more schools deal with bullying and violence, a local school comes up with a way to stop things from escalating before they start.

Everything from the lighting to the sounds in a room at Deer Park Junior-Senior High School are calming. It's called the "Recharge Room".

Taylor Spivey is a junior. She’s been to the room several times since the administration designed it. “You can sit there and just chill, listen to music, put rain sounds on. I don't know, it's really nice," Taylor said.

It’s a place where students feel safe and can relax. The Recharge Room has been in use for the past few weeks, but Tuesday parents, teachers, and community partners got to see the school's new tool.

Principal Stace Orso said, “Every student that comes in there needs something different. Some students come in and they're angry and they need a physical release and so we have a miniature trampoline. We have a punching bag. We have a recumbent bike and then some students just need some relaxation.”

It's a proactive approach to help the students with stress, anxiety, conflict resolution and anger management.

“I would normally just walk the halls and get in trouble that way. Now that we have this we are able to go to a place, basically a safe haven and feel like we're at home,” said senior Casey Mitchell.

Teachers have seen that sometimes teens don't have the coping skills to deal with what's going on at home or in the classroom.

Orso said, “What we want to do is teach them those skills to recognize those triggers, remove themselves to a safe space.”

The school’s head football coach and Dean of Students, Calvin Johnson, supervises the Recharge Room. “They know how to text. They know how to post, but they don't know how to actually communicate and talk,” Johnson said. “So when they come in, the first ten minutes is talking to me. You have to talk to me and figure out why you're down here. How do we push the reset button? What can we do to have a restorative situation so you can go back to class and get back on track?”

Taylor added, “You can go down there and tell Coach Cal exactly how you're feeling and why and just getting to talk it out, you're automatically like, oh okay. I can go finish the rest of my day. It's all going to be good.”

So far it's been helpful for the students, keeping them out of trouble. The adults who work with them are seeing progress. Students spend roughly ten or fifteen minutes in the room. When they are calm, they get a slip signed and return to class.

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The principal at Deer Park says she's hoping the Recharge Room will be a model for other school districts.

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