Baldwin Park Unified students are benefiting from an additional level of support through the creation and implementation of wellness rooms on nine campuses across the District.
With guidance and oversight from Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Outreach Program (EOP) interns Lauren Hernandez and Jacyleen Ramirez, and Sierra Vista High School’s social worker John Cabrera, SVHS launched its Wellness Center this month, creating a space that allows students to disconnect and unwind from the stressors of life.
“At the Dons Wellness Center, we provide a safe space for students to come and talk about what may be bothering them,” Cabrera said. “We also have mental health agencies that come to provide individual therapy for students.”
Over the last few months, social workers from Kaiser’s EOP worked tirelessly to prepare the space for students. The center is open Monday through Friday, before school, during brunch and lunch, and after school.
To access the Wellness Center, students scan the QR code at the door and check in; teachers can also refer students to the center, where they then receive one-on-one counseling. The school’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) club partners with the center through its Mindfulness Monday workshops, where students learn a variety of coping skills like practicing guided meditations.
Once signed in, students can choose between a grounding area where they can rest on bean bag chairs, a coloring station, a rest and renew area with sofas and chairs where they can close their eyes, and a yoga and disconnect space so they can mindfully move and stretch.
De Anza and Walnut elementary schools also recently formed wellness rooms so students and teachers can benefit from a calming atmosphere, complete with sensory activities and emotional decompressing stations.
“This year we started our journey in developing and building a space for students and staff to engage and interact,” De Anza Principal Caroline Lau said. “We realized there is a need for not just our students but also our staff to go to when they need to reflect and manage their emotions and stress.”
De Anza’s moderate to severe special education teachers and occupational therapist supported the idea and provided input for sensory activities. Teachers can sign up to use the room as a class, with groups engaging in yoga and breathing exercises.
Students can also rest on bean bags, comfortable flex floor seats, a sofa and a bench. Some of the sensory games include containers filled with dry rice, in which students must find the hidden pom pom; containers filled with pom poms, in which students need to find the hidden domino inside; water bead squeeze balls; and a tub with squishy spike balls.
At Walnut Elementary, the wellness room is designed as a comfortable space where groups of up to six students can sit with their emotions. While the school has a medically certified counseling classroom through Foothill Family Counseling Agency, administrators expanded on the idea to create a therapeutic space for all students, even those not receiving one-on-one counseling.
Walnut Assistant Principal Lupe Anaya said the room is close to the main office so that administrators can have check-in meetings with students in an area that is welcoming.
“When we check in with students in our main offices, it can be intimidating and they immediately think they are in trouble,” Anaya said. “This space is a new area that is welcoming and more positive so they know the meetings are meant to help and support them.”
Other Baldwin Park Unified schools that have wellness centers include Geddes, Margaret Heath and Pleasant View elementary schools. Foster, Tracy and Vineland elementary schools are in the process of creating wellness rooms and hope to have facilities ready for student use later this year.
BPUSD_SVHS Wellness Room: Sierra Vista High School launched its Wellness Center this month to provide a comforting space that helps students unwind from their day. Watch the full video to explore the new Dons' center.