VIDEO: Sunburst Youth Academy opens new WellSpace to support mental health, student performance

With the goal of improving students’ mental health and academic outcomes, a new WellSpace has taken shape at Sunburst Youth Academy.

To date, more than 20 WellSpaces have been established at schools throughout the county thanks to a partnership between the Orange County Department of Education and CHOC. In many instances, underutilized campus spaces have been transformed into calm and comfortable environments for students to reset and practice mindfulness strategies with support from counselors and other staff. 

Sunburst, a community high school for at-risk youth, is operated by the California National Guard in partnership with OCDE at Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. Its students, referred to as cadets, spend more than five months earning high school credits in the military-style program, which is designed to instill leadership, pride and confidence.

Director Lt. Col. Gilbert Sanchez said the academy’s new WellSpace is a place where cadets “can decompress, just kind of be in the moment.”

“Overall,” he said, “the military staff has embraced it.”

The WellSpace initiative began in 2021 in the Los Alamitos Unified School District as a way to boost mental health and academic performance by establishing spaces of calm that students can access during breaks or with a referral. Watch the video above to learn more about Sunburst’s new WellSpace.