Partnership to Bring WellSpaces to IUSD Secondary Schools


The Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) has received a $2 million gift from the Tsao Family Foundation to work in collaboration with the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) to establish 17 WellSpaces on IUSD secondary school campuses over the next four years. Similar to Measure E projects, this is a phased rollout.  The first group of WellSpaces are expected to open by the beginning of the 2022-23 school year on four IUSD campuses: South Lake and Venado middle schools and Irvine and University high schools. Additional spaces are expected to open each school year on other secondary campuses until all 17 are operational. 

WellSpace Features

These unique spaces build upon our commitment, at both the District and school site levels, to mental health and wellness and will provide an additional layer of supports for students. 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.

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 succeed at the highest levels both personally and academically.  This is also one more avenue for students to seek support when needed.

For more information about IUSD’s mental health and wellness resources, services and supports, visit

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