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Rodney Choice/AP Images for Scholastic, Inc.

A Color for Everyone

Bellen Woodard creates crayons to help kids feel included while celebrating their differences.

As You Read, Think About: What does it mean to be inclusive? How can you be more inclusive of others?

When Bellen Woodard was in third grade, a classmate asked her a question she had heard many times before: “Would you please pass the skin-colored crayon?”

As usual, Bellen handed the peach crayon to her friend. But this time, something bothered her. Bellen was the only Black girl in her grade. Though the peach crayon matched the skin color of most of her classmates, it didn’t match hers. 

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

She wanted her classmates to realize that many kids need crayons other than peach to draw themselves. Bellen set out to change the way her classmates thought about skin color. 

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

Bellen had heard that question many times before. As usual, she handed the peach crayon to her friend. But this time, something bothered her. Bellen was the only Black girl in her grade. The peach crayon matched the skin color of most of her classmates. But it didn’t match hers.

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

Bellen knew many kids need crayons other than peach to draw themselves. She wanted her classmates to realize that. She set out to change the way her classmates thought about skin color.

Changing the Question

Bellen talked to her mom about what had happened, and her mom had a suggestion. The next time someone asked for the skin-colored crayon, why not pass the brown one? After all, that’s the crayon Bellen uses to draw her skin color. But Bellen had a different idea.

“I’d ask the person what color they wanted,” she explains. “Because people’s skin can be any number of beautiful colors.”

Bellen told her teacher about the idea and shared it with the rest of the class. Before long, Bellen’s classmates stopped referring to peach as the skin-colored crayon. That change soon spread throughout her school. 

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

Bellen talked to her mom about what had happened. Her mom had a suggestion. When someone asked for the skin-colored crayon, Bellen should pass the brown one. After all, that’s the crayon Bellen uses to draw her skin color. But Bellen had a different idea.

“I’d ask the person what color they wanted,” she explains. “Because people’s skin can be any number of beautiful colors.”

Bellen told her teacher about the idea. She also shared it with the rest of the class. Before long, Bellen’s classmates stopped referring to peach as the skin-colored crayon. That change soon spread throughout her school.

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

Rodney Choice/AP Images for Scholastic, Inc.

Bellen’s dad and older brothers help her fill the packets and ship them out.

More Than Peach

In the spring of 2019, Bellen’s More Than Peach Project was born. She wants to inspire people to celebrate each other’s differences and make the world more inclusive.  

“I wanted to make sure that everyone has a crayon that represents them and matches their skin,” says Bellen, who calls herself a crayon activist.

The problem was that most boxes of crayons don’t include enough colors to represent everyone. With money she had saved, Bellen ordered crayons in a variety of skin tones. She packaged them with sketch pads and donated them to schools near her home in Leesburg, Virginia.

The news about the More Than Peach Project spread on social media. Soon kids, parents, and teachers across the country were asking for Bellen’s crayons. She decided to start selling her kits online. She uses some of the money from her online sales to fund the kits she donates to kids and schools in need.

In the spring of 2019, Bellen’s More Than Peach Project was born. She wants to inspire people to celebrate each other’s differences. She also wants to make the world more inclusive. 

“I wanted to make sure that everyone has a crayon that represents them and matches their skin,” says Bellen. She calls herself a crayon activist.

But there was a problem. Most boxes of crayons don’t include enough colors to represent everyone. Bellen had saved some money. She used it to order crayons in a variety of skin tones. She packaged them with sketch pads. Then she donated the kits to schools near her home in Leesburg, Virginia.

The news about the More Than Peach Project spread on social media. Soon requests came in from across the country. Kids, parents, and teachers wanted Bellen’s crayons.

She decided to start selling her kits online. She did not keep all the money from her online sales. Instead, she used some of it to fund the kits she donates to kids and schools in need.

Courtesy of the Woodard family

Bellen calls her kits Palette Packs. A palette is a set of colors used by an artist.

A Bright Future

So far, Bellen has donated more than 4,000 kits. And she no longer needs to buy the crayons for them. She has her own More Than Peach brand specially made.

Bellen has received hundreds of letters and emails thanking her. In March, state lawmakers in Virginia passed the Bellen Bill to honor her leadership. And the Virginia Museum of History and Culture put a More Than Peach Project pack on display. Bellen plans to continue to change the world—one crayon at a time.

“My goal is to help kids be more understanding of each other,” she says.

Bellen has donated more than 4,000 kits. She no longer needs to buy the crayons for them. She has her own More Than Peach brand specially made.

Bellen has received hundreds of letters and emails thanking her. In March, state lawmakers in Virginia passed the Bellen Bill to honor her leadership. Bellen received another honor. The Virginia Museum of History and Culture put a More Than Peach Project kit on display. Bellen plans to continue to change the world—one crayon at a time.

“My goal is to help kids be more understanding of each other,” she says.

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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