IUSD Celebrates Opening of WellSpaces

Ribbon Cutting

IUSD joined the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), the Tsao Family Foundation and the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) to celebrate the WellSpaces set to open for the 2022-23 school year at South Lake and Venado middle schools and Irvine and University high schools. WellSpaces will open on IUSD secondary campuses over four years until all 17 are operational. 

As part of the celebration at University High School, participants, including IUSD Board of Education Members Lauren Brooks, Ira Glasky and Sharon Wallin, along with Superintendent Terry Walker, thanked the Tsao family for their generous $2 million gift, that has made these calming spaces possible.  CHOC officials were then presented with the check from the Tsao family before cutting the ribbon and touring the WellSpace, where they  learned about the features to support students.  

WellSpace Ribbon Cutting University HS

University High School WellSpace sitting area.

WellSpace at University HS

Attendees tour WellSpace at University High School.

IUSD Board Members and Supt. Walker

IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker, Board Members Lauren Brooks, Sharon Wallin and Ira Glasky with Choco Bear. 

Principal Astor and Director Sunny Shen

University High School Principal Kevin Astor and IUSD Director of Prevention and Intervention Sunny Shen.

During his remarks, Superintendent Walker stated, “These unique spaces are a physical representation of IUSD’s commitment, at both the District and school site levels, to mental health and wellness and will provide an additional layer of supports for our students.”  Walker continued, “The research is clear – hope, optimism and resiliency are essential for students to overcome challenges, maintain social wellness and to learn at the highest levels so they can achieve their academic and personal goals.”    

About the WellSpaces

WellSpaces feature biophilic designs - interior design that incorporates elements of nature – creating a home-like feel to help students better cope with daily stresses and to support their social and emotional wellbeing along with academic successes.  When needed students will be able to visit WellSpaces, which can be self-referred or recommended by a teacher, counselor or friend.  They will offer a space of calm, punctuated by mindfulness activities such as journaling, aromatherapy, crafts and more. Students may learn breathing exercises and other techniques to help them build resilience and self-regulation skills so they may gain a better sense of control and return to learning.

University HS


Irvine HS

Irvine HS

South Lake MS

South Lake

Venado MS


The Tsao Family Foundation gift will also enable CHOC’s mental health services team to work closely with IUSD WellSpace coordinators and other school-based counseling staff to support the development of targeted wellness programming, which includes:

  • Specialized educational sessions for students, teachers and parents to help support children’s mental health, encourage a growth mindset and develop positive coping skills. 
  • Training and resources for both teachers and school-based counseling staff to help support children who may be struggling and need additional services. 
  • Group sessions for students who would benefit from additional support. 
  • Customized resources to meet the unique needs of each school’s students, teachers and families.

Benefits of WellSpaces

Through the CHOC and OCDE partnership, several WellSpaces are already open on middle and high school campuses throughout the county.  Early data from CHOC and OCDE shows that the WellSpace concept is working to de-escalate students experiencing a mental health concern while at school. More than 75 percent of 470 students surveyed after using one Orange County middle school’s WellSpace rated their experiences with five stars. Students there also consistently report positive changes in their moods following a WellSpace visit.

Building Upon IUSD’s Commitment to Mental Health and Wellness

The WellSpaces and the accompanying services planned for IUSD’s secondary campuses will provide additional mental health and wellness supports for our students.  Investments in student mental health and wellness has been one of the Board of Education’s top priorities for many years.  This partnership is an extraordinary opportunity to build upon IUSD’s comprehensive programs, initiatives and supports, which are designed to help students cultivate skills such as resiliency, perseverance and adaptability when navigating complex emotions and experiences so they may meet their full potential.  This is also an additional avenue for students to seek support when needed.

For more information about IUSD’s mental health and wellness resources, services and supports, visit iusd.org/Prevention.

We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to sharing more information with our families throughout the 2022-23 school year.