How WITS started
The four WITS strategies were created by an unknown source on Vancouver Island. The first documented use was in 1993 at Lampson Street Elementary School in Esquimalt BC, where Principal Judi Stevenson had been teaching students its four simple conflict resolution strategies:
- Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, and Seek help.
These WITS strategies were soon adopted by other local educators, and “using your WITS” quickly became a common phrase at schools in Greater Victoria.
After seeing the WITS strategies at work, Tom Woods, a school police liaison officer, sought to broaden its reach. In 1997, he launched the Rock Solid Foundation in collaboration with local athletes and law enforcement officials. Its mission: Provide violence prevention programs to children and youth.
Wanting to widen WITS’ impact as part of Rock Solid’s efforts, Woods developed additional program elements with Stevenson, local athletes and other collaborators. Greater Victoria School District 61 saw its potential and assigned teachers and counselors to work with Rock Solid to review this new WITS Program. Then, from 2004-2009 a University of Victoria research team partnered with Rock Solid and contributed significantly to its implementation, evaluation and associated educational materials.
These collaborations enabled the simple set of WITS strategies to evolve into a full fledged WITS Program, based on literacy and centered on a whole-community approach.