Bonnie Leadbeater, WITS, accepts 2013 CIHR Partnership Award

In the early 1990s, Lampson Elementary School in Esquimalt, British Columbia, began to develop a new anti-bullying program in response to several violent bullying incidents in Victoria. The result was Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help (the WITS Programs), designed to support children who are responsive and proactive when they seek help for bullying. After observing the program in action, local law enforcement officials started the Rock Solid Foundation, a not-for-profit group to raise funds to help B.C. schools use the WITS Programs.

In 1998, Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater, a researcher at the University of Victoria, signed on to help evaluate WITS. Today, under the leadership of Dr. Leadbeater and with the help of PREVNet, the Rock Solid Foundation and the RCMP’s National Youth Officer Program, WITS is spreading to schools across Canada, with more than 500 schools participating so far.

"I think it’s really made a difference in the culture of schools and our communities across Canada,” says Dr. Leadbeater.

The program has led to measurable, sustained reductions in bullying. Dr. Leadbeater feels the community-based research collaboration for development of the WITS Programs is key to its success.

“Working with our community partners in Victoria made the development of the WITS programs possible and highly relevant for other schools hoping to address bullying and peer victimization,” says Leadbeater

For a complete list of award recipients, please visit the CIHR website

The ceremony will be live streamed online starting at 6:00 p.m. ET