LAEF Donates $35,000 for Middle School Well Spaces!

LAEF presents a check to Oak Principal Erin Kominsky and McAuliffe Principal Ryan Weiss-Wright for construction of the Middle School Well Spaces.

 The Los Alamitos Education Foundation (LAEF) was proud to donate an additional $35,000 last month for the construction of Well Spaces at both district Middle Schools – Oak and McAuliffe.  This donation, along with the $25,000 LAEF donated last year to the mental health department, makes a total of $60,000 donated by LAEF for this construction project.   This also marks the fourth year in a row that LAEF has made mental health a priority in funding.

A classroom has been transformed at each middle school to create the Well Spaces.  They are centrally located on each campus so students can easily access the space.  Psychologists, Guidance Counselors, and Mental Health Counselors will support students in the space, which will provide a calm, safe and supportive environment to assist students with issues (i.e., self-esteem, depression, peer relations, etc.) that impact their ability to achieve their highest potential. 

“Establishing a well space at McAuliffe fulfills a huge need for our school community. As we actively seek to provide education around social and emotional wellness, the creation of this physical space goes above and beyond what we could’ve dreamt of for this work,” said Dr. Ryan Weiss-Wright, McAuliffe Principal.

The Well Spaces could not come at a better time.  With school shutdowns and COVID lockdowns, youth are dealing with more stress than ever.  The Centers for Disease Control surveyed Americans on their mental health at the end of June 2020 and young people seem to be the hardest hit group.  For ages 18-24, one in four respondents said they had “seriously considered” suicide in the past 30 days.  Experts believe and early studies suggest that youth suicide and suicide attempts will increase, as it was already at a record high before the pandemic.   The loss of regular contact with peers and adults outside the home, something critical to a teenager’s development, has been disrupted.  Reports show that connectedness to school and community programs that help with coping and problem-solving skills can help with suicide prevention, which will be a function of the Well Spaces.

“The Well Spaces are a wonderful example of creating partnerships to greatly benefit our students,” said Grace Delk, Los Alamitos Director of Special Education and Mental Health.  “The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) is providing the educational expertise, Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC) provides the medical expertise and furnishings, LAEF provides the construction funding and ongoing operational costs, and our district staff facilitates the process and staff the spaces.  The Well Spaces will be a one-stop-shop to increase access to supports and decrease mental health stigma, and it wouldn’t be possible without this collaborative effort.” 

“The Oak staff and students are grateful for the newest addition of our Well Space on the Oak Campus.  This new student-centered space will support our efforts to promote social/emotional health for all students on campus,” said Erin Kominsky, Oak Principal.  “Our students have been instrumental in the design of this space and we are excited to watch their eyes light up as their visions become reality.   Thank you LAEF!”

This donation is possible because of LAEF’s major donor group: the Los Al Leadership Circle (LALC).  LALC members are distinguished, significant supporters of LAEF’s visionary work who commit to donating a minimum of $1,000 annually.  To learn more, please visit LAEF4Kids.org/LALC.

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