About Us

Pink Day Founder Travis Price Joins WITS

The founder of internationally recognized Pink Shirt Day or Pink Day, has joined WITS, Canada’s most prolific bullying-prevention program!

Travis Price, co-founder of Pink Day (known in some jurisdictions as Pink Shirt Day) will work closely with the WITS Programs Foundation to bring both their messages to Canadian children in the coming 2019-2020 school year. It is a natural fit.

The original Pink Shirt Day was organized by David Shepherd and Travis Price of Berwick, Nova Scotia, who in 2007 bought and distributed 50 pink shirts after a male ninth grade student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt during the first day of school. The last Wednesday each February is now the national anti-bullying day in Canada. Over the past 12 years, Price has spoken at hundreds of Canadian  schools and worked with over 100 countries to spread the Pink Day movement to stop bullying and embrace kindness.

The WITS strategies (Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help) for young children were brought forward in 1998 as a bullying-prevention program after the tragic death of Reena Virk in Victoria, BC. The University of Victoria assisted with evaluations and nation-wide dissemination under the leadership of psychology professor Bonnie Leadbeater, PhD. WITS is now used in over 1200 Canadian schools, has crossed the border into the USA, and last year a group of researchers in Brazil worked with Leadbeater to create the Portuguese version of WITS, known as DIGA.

According to UNICEF’s 2017 report “Oh Canada! Our kids deserve better”, Canada ranks 25th place out of 41 rich countries on the Index of Child and Youth Well-being and Sustainability, and Canada’s middle ranking hasn’t improved in years.” Together, Travis Price and the WITS Programs Foundation will build on their collective successes to reduce bullying and create a more compassionate Canadian society.

Pictured are Directors, Staff, Volunteers and mascot WITSUP at our 20th anniversary event, held at the Songhees Wellness Centre blocks away from where it all started in Esquimalt, (part of Victoria) BC, Canada.

We have now reached 1,200 schools in Canada, with one in the USA and an affiliated Portuguese version “DIGA” in Brazil. Officially since 1998 (and even before that!) the WITS Programs have been making a difference in Canadian schools. Find WITS in your community on our map at the bottom of the program section home page.

Teachers and students: send us your drawings and photos of WITS, DIRE, LEADerS and/or MENTOR  in your school – we’ll post as many as we can!

We are in a community near you! Pictured is Andy Telfer, WITS Executive Director (left), speaking with David McKenzie, Mayor of the Town of Barrhead, Alberta. Barrhead Elementary had the WITS program in 2013/2014 and the Mayor wants to reinstate WITS in local schools as the community leader. Shaw is sponsoring programs in some locations in Alberta and BC; contact our office for more details.

Strategic Plan 2018 to 2020

We have adopted a strategic plan to guide the WITS Programs Foundation into 2020. Our goals are:

  • The number of WITS program users in Canada has tripled, and the WITS Staff team has increased respectively with defined roles under the leadership of the Executive Director celebrating a 3 year anniversary
  • An innovative strategic funding plan
  • The ability to identify all who are using the program, how they are using it and where they are
  • A thriving volunteer program that provides support to the organization at various levels

To learn more about our plans, contact the foundation office.

Our History

The WITS Programs were collaboratively created by the Rock Solid Foundation under the direction of Tom Woods, MBA, and the University of Victoria with the leadership of Bonnie Leadbeater, PhD.

The WITS acronym was created at Lampson Street Elementary School in 1993 when Principal Judi Stevenson began teaching students four simple conflict resolution strategies: Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out and Seek help. These were eagerly adopted by teachers, counselors, and administrators and soon, “using your WITS” was a common phrase at the Esquimalt, BC school.

After seeing WITS at work, school police liaison Tom Woods sought to broaden its reach. In 1997, he launched the Rock Solid Foundation with a group of local athletes and law enforcement officials.

Its mission? Provide violence prevention programs to children and youth.

Wanting the WITS acronym as part of Rock Solid’s efforts, Woods partnered with Principal Stevenson to develop a WITS Program.

It was a community-based approach. School District 61 teachers and counselors provided input, and University of Victoria psychology professor Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater and her research team signed on in 1998 to contribute to the development, implementation, and evaluation.

The simple acronym evolved into the WITS Primary Program – the only peer victimization prevention program that reaches beyond the classroom to involve families and communities.

Creation of the WITS LEADerS Program

As the WITS Primary Program spread to Greater Victoria area schools, a question emerged. Where do older students fit in?

If WITS was meant as a whole school approach to preventing peer victimization, students in Grades 4 to 6 would also need to be included. After all, even at this age, children still need adult help to solve peer problems.

The Rock Solid Foundation and UVic began collaborating with Frank Hobbs and Lake Hill Elementary Schools in Victoria to develop the WITS LEADerS Program for students in Grades 4 to 6.

The program reflects the developmental advances which make this age group better able to understand other’s perspectives and inner worlds and recognizes them as leaders capable of making their schools and communities safer places for younger children. The acronym stands for a problem-solving approach to peer conflicts: Look and listen, Explore points of view, Act, Did it work? and Seek help.

The program was piloted in 2005 in School District 61 and made widely available in 2006.

French Adaptation

In 2011, WITS began working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to share the WITS message across the country, especially in rural areas. This partnership was the perfect opportunity to create a French language adaptation of the programs that would make them available to Francophone communities in Canada. With Funding from the Social sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The programs were adapted into French through partnerships with the Francophone Education Authority of British Columbia and the RCMP. The DIRE (WITS) and MENTOR (WITS LEADerS) programs were piloted during the 2012-2013 school year are now fully available for use in Francophone and French Immersion schools.


In 2017, the current WITS Programs Foundation was formed by officially merging the University of Victoria WITS Program and the Rock Solid Foundation.

WITS Programs Today

Today, the WITS Programs have spread to more than 1,200 schools across Canada and the United States, earning endorsements from several authors and organizations.

With the launch of the new WITS website, the release of the WITS Introductory Video as well as the introduction of two online training programs — the WITS Teacher Accreditation Program and the WITS Training Program for Community Leaders — it is expected the programs’ reach will continue to grow, teaching more and more children across Canada what it means to use their WITS.

This widespread implementation would not have been possible without the generous contributions of many supporters.

The WITS Programs Logic Model

by Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater

This logic model illustrates how the WITS Programs are intended to lead to enhanced mental health and healthy relationships among elementary school children by outlining the programs’ inputs, outputs and outcomes.

Print this logic model

Our Partners

The RCMP are primary WITS catalysts and offer many Bullying Prevention Resources

WITS works with the RespectED Program

WITS works with PREVNet to develop scientifically effective strategies to intervene and reduce bullying problems.

WITS Program Developers

  • Loretta Angene (SD 61)
  • Debbie Armitage (SD 61)
  • Gina Bains (SD 61)
  • Sonya Einstadt (SD 61)
  • Wendy Hoglund (UVic)
  • Vivian Jubb (SD 61)
  • Bonnie Leadbeater (UVic)
  • Penny MacFarlane (SD 61)
  • Judy Pitre (SD 61)
  • Vivian Plint (SD 61)
  • Kathreen Riel (UVIC)
  • Mariza Rossato (SD 61)
  • Leanne Seddon-Howell (SD 61)
  • Judi Stevenson (SD 61)
  • Paweena Sukawathanakul (UVIC)
  • Rachel Yeung Thompson (UVIC)
  • Kathy Upton (SD 61)
  • Tom Woods (Rock Solid)