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Rodney Choice/AP Images for Scholastic, Inc.; Courtesy of family (crayons); Shutterstock.com (background)

A Color for Everyone

Bellen Woodard's crayons help kids feel included and celebrate their differences.

As You Read: What does it mean to be included? How can you include others?

When Bellen Woodard was in third grade, a classmate asked, “Can you please pass the skin-colored crayon?”

Bellen had heard that question many times before. But this time something bothered her. She was the only Black girl in her grade. While peach matched most of her classmates’ skin colors, it didn’t match hers. So why did everyone call it the skin-colored crayon?

“It made me feel not as important,” says Bellen, now in fifth grade. “Like there’s only one skin color.”

Bellen knew different kids all around the world used other colors to draw themselves. She wanted to change the way her friends thought about skin color. But how could she help them to do that?

When Bellen Woodard was in third grade, a classmate asked her to pass the skin-colored crayon.

Bellen had heard that question before. But this time something bothered her. She was the only Black girl in her grade. The peach crayon matched most of her classmates’ skin colors. But it didn’t match hers. So why did everyone call it skin-colored?

“It made me feel not as important,” says Bellen. “Like there’s only one skin color.”

Bellen wanted to change the way her friends thought about skin color. But how could she do that?

Bellen's Big Idea

Bellen made a plan for the next time someone asked for a skin-colored crayon. Rather than just handing over peach, she’d ask what color that person wanted.

“Because people’s skin can be lots of beautiful colors,” Bellen explains.

Bellen’s teacher loved the idea. Before long, her class stopped calling peach the skin-colored crayon. Then her entire school made the same change.

“That was nice,” Bellen says. “But I wanted more people to change too.”

Bellen made a plan. The next time someone asked for a skin-colored crayon, she'd ask what color that person wanted. She would not just hand over peach.

“Because people’s skin can be lots of beautiful colors,” Bellen says.

Bellen’s teacher loved the idea. Soon, her class stopped calling peach the skin-colored crayon. Then her whole school made the change.

“That was nice,” Bellen says. “But I wanted more people to change too.”

More Than Peach

That’s when Bellen’s More Than Peach Project was born. Bellen thinks we should celebrate how we’re all different. To do that, she knew the world needed to be more inclusive.

“I wanted to make sure that everyone has a crayon that represents them and matches their skin,” the 9-year-old says.

But most boxes of crayons don’t include enough colors to do that. So Bellen used money she had saved to order crayons in diverse skin tones. She packed them with sketch pads and donated the packets to schools near her home in Virginia.

That is when Bellen’s More Than Peach Project was born. Bellen thinks we should celebrate how we’re all different. She knew the world needed to be more inclusive.

“I wanted to make sure that everyone has a crayon that matches their skin,” the fifth-grader says.

Most boxes of crayons do not include enough colors to do that. So Bellen used money she had saved. She ordered crayons in diverse skin tones. She packed them with sketch pads. Then she gave them to schools near her home in Virginia.

A Bright Future

Before long, Bellen’s project spread on social media. Now she sells her kits online—and continues to give away free packets.

Kids across the country are excited to have colors they need to draw themselves. They’ve even sent Bellen hundreds of thank-you notes. Bellen says she will continue changing the world, one crayon at a time.

Bellen’s project spread on social media. Now she sells her kits online. And she still gives away free packets.

Kids are excited to have colors they need to draw themselves. They have even sent Bellen thank-you notes. Bellen says she will keep changing the world, one crayon at a time.

1. What color were Bellen’s classmates referring to when they asked for the skin-colored crayon? How did this make Bellen feel?

2. What is the goal of the More Than Peach Project?

3. What does inclusive mean? How is Bellen trying to make the world more inclusive?

1. What color were Bellen’s classmates referring to when they asked for the skin-colored crayon? How did this make Bellen feel?

2. What is the goal of the More Than Peach Project?

3. What does inclusive mean? How is Bellen trying to make the world more inclusive?

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