Gordon H. Beatty Middle School eighth-grader Sarah B. and Counselor Jodie Reddingius talk about the Zen garden at their school’s new WellSpace. The center was created to give students a space to express themselves, decompress and seek out new forms of relaxation, district officials say. (Photo courtesy fo BPSD)
As we reported back in June, the Orange County Department of Education and CHOC have teamed up with several local districts to install tranquil settings for students to decompress and learn about mindfulness strategies with support from school counselors.
The county’s first two WellSpace centers opened at McAuliffe and Oak middle schools in the Los Alamitos Unified School District during the last school year. Buena Park Middle School and Gordon H. Beatty Middle School — both are in the Buena Park district — completed their centers over the summer.
“The emotional well-being of our students is paramount in ensuring they remain happy and successful, and our new WellSpace centers provide them with the relief they need,” Buena Park Superintendent Dr. Ramon Miramontes said. “I encourage all of our middle school students to use the new WellSpace center facilities to learn about relaxation and self-care.”
Each WellSpace is furnished with comfortable chairs, calming music and encouraging slogans amid a natural color palette that reflects the biophilic design concept. Along with having a place to relax and recenter, students can participate in activities like journaling, aromatherapy, art therapy and physical movement.
‘It’s all so calming’
At schools that have a WellSpace, students can typically ask to visit or get a referral from their teacher. Either way, there are proven benefits to soothing the part of the brain that experiences intense emotions, leading to more focused learning time in the classroom.
“I come here to catch up on homework and de-stress,” said an eighth-grader who attends Buena Park Middle School. “I feel so relaxed and calm when talking to my friends at the WellSpace center. Everything in here is designed to help with nervousness and it’s all so calming.”
Beatty Middle School Counselor Jodie Reddingius said the WellSpace centers can also improve students’ social skills and help them make connections with new people.
CHOC, the Orange County pediatric healthcare system, contributed $20,000 for both Buena Park centers, and OCDE staff helped design the spaces.
Buena Park High School in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District has also added a WellSpace this year, bringing the county’s total to five.