Comox Valley songwriter helping kids keep their WITS about them

With one particular song, Keisja Cox has special motivation to hope people keep singing her words.

KEISJA COX has written a song about the WITS program

KEISJA COX has written a song about the WITS program

Like any singer-songwriter, Keisja Cox hopes the songs she writes become stuck in people’s heads.

But with one particular song called WITS, the 13-year-old has even more reason to hope people keep singing her words — it could help someone deal with bullying.

WITS stands for Walk away, Ignore it, Talk it out, Seek help, and it’s a program that supports students in kindergarten to Grade 7 who are dealing with bullying and peer victimization.

About six months ago, Cox wrote a song about WITS with Susie McGregor of Highland Music Multimedia Productions.

“The WITS program had been in my school from when I was in kindergarten to Grade 7,” said Cox. “How I came to writing the song was I was getting bullied in Grade 7 pretty bad. Since I grew up with the WITS program … when I was getting bullied, the WITS program helped me a lot.”

Cox went to her principal at Valley View Elementary School, Bill Green. He knew she was a singer-songwriter, and told Cox, who was in the school’s leadership program, that she should write a song about WITS.

Cox started working with McGregor to write the song.

“I kind of used my background knowledge of WITS and what was going on and kind of put them together,” she said.

Cox, who is now in Grade 8 at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School, says writing the song gave her another way to deal with the bullying.

“Whenever I’m really going through something, I guess songwriting kind of helps, too,” she said. “It’s kind of my way of venting as well.”

Cox believes the WITS program works because it gives people a way to deal with bullying instead of treating bullying as something that can be done away with.

“I think it works because a lot of people out there, some of the programs say their goal is to completely get rid of bullies, but you can’t completely get rid of bullies,” she said. “What WITS does is teaches kids at a really young age how to deal with bullies. At such a young age, I guess it just stuck in my head; every year, we would do our assembly about code of conduct and WITS, and it really helped.”

Cox sings the WITS song at assemblies in local elementary schools.

“It’s cute because you’re up there, and they just stare at you,” she said. “I guess they kind of look up to me, and that’s a really cool thing. After the assembly, I’ll be sitting on the side, and they say, ‘Hi Keisja.’ The little ones in kindergarten are really excited, and that’s kind of what I wanted.”

Cox, who has also written a song about the Purple Ribbon Campaign urging Comox Valley residents to take a stand against domestic violence, hopes her song will help students when they’re being bullied.

“What I want to do is just bring awareness,” she said. “(Students) seem to get really excited about it. WITS is a song that kind of sticks in their brains; the chorus is a pretty simple tune, so maybe when they get in a situation, they will sing it … I want it to help them.”

Cox’s mother Terri saw Cox use her WITS and saw how the program helped her and ultimately led her to seek out help.

“There’s definitely value in the program,” she said. “I think it’s not so much that there will never, ever be bullies or that bullies will ever go away, but that we need to get to kids at a young age, kindergarten and Grade 1, to use their WITS.

“I’m almost a bit of an advocate for it now because it has shown me there are tools that need to be established at a young age. Because there are always going to be bullies, if we can get it into schools and get educators on board, it’s like anything — you start young, and it builds a foundation.”

The WITS programs bring together schools, families and communities to help elementary school children deal with bullying and peer victimization.

The programs are evidence-based and include two components. The WITS Primary Program is for students from kindergarten to Grade 3. WITS stands for Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out and Seek help and provides a common language that children and the adults in their environments can use to talk about and respond to peer victimization.

WITS LEADS Programs are aimed at students in Grade 4-6. LEADS stands for Look and listen, Explore points of view, Act, Did it work? and Seek help.

The program promotes leadership and social responsibility and encourages children to deal with peer conflict situations using these five problem-solving steps. It targets relational victimization — such as gossiping and social exclusion — and aims to increase children’s understanding of their peers’ internal worlds.

Both are literature-based programs that use lesson plans to integrate WITS messages with curriculum guidelines in a variety of subject areas. They also involve families and community leaders, such as emergency services personnel and university or high school athletes, to create responsive communities for the prevention of peer victimization.

Cox’s WITS song was released on iTunes Nov. 1.

To listen to the song — with lyrics — go to  www.youtube.com/watch?v=elAnNTQQm1w. There is also a version of the song on the virtual piano at www.thevirtualpiano.com.

To learn more about WITS, visit www.witsprogram.ca.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The suspect in a Nov. 22 attempted robbery at the Ryan Road 7-Eleven has been arrested. Photo supplied
Courtenay man arrested in connection with attempted robbery at 7-Eleven

A 19-year old Courtenay man has been arrested following an attempted robbery… Continue reading

The Nov. 20 WestJet flight 3171 has been identified by the BC Centre for Disease Control with a COVID case aboard. (Black Press file photo)
COVID-19 exposure reported on a fifth flight at Comox airport

Another exposure risk from flight originating in Calgary

The School District 70 administration office in Port Alberni. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO
Four Alberni schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

Exposures occurred between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25 depending on the school

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 160 Comox, B.C. Poppy Chairman, Kent Guilford presenting cheques to the following organizations in support of their venues: (top left) The Sea Cadet Corps who assisted in last year’s Poppy campaign. (Top right) CFB Comox, Military Family Resource Center, Kim Hetherington, executive director MFRC. Bottom, The Views at St Joseph’s, Jessica Aldred, Health Care Foundation, Michael Aikins, senior operations leader. We wish to Thank All those who supported last year’s Poppy Campaign and we hope we will have your continued support this year. Thank you all.
Comox Valley gives back

Spotlight on some of the groups, businesses and individuals who make the Comox Valley great

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Most Read