Student View

DISCOVERY & INVENTION

A Color for Everyone

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

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. 

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

More Than Peach

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

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.

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.

What Bellen Wants You To Know

Everyone should feel included. 

We’re different in our own ways, but we’re all human. We shouldn’t exclude others just because of their differences. 


Love the skin you’re in. 

We all have our own unique skin color, and it’s OK if it’s not peach or brown. Whatever it is, you should love who you are!


Let your voice be heard. 

If something bothers you, don’t let it keep happening without at least trying to make a change. Speak up!

Continue the Learning Journey

Reread the sidebar “What Bellen Wants You to Know.” What advice would you want to share with others? Brainstorm your ideas. Then pick your top three tips and explain why they are important, like Bellen did. Now turn your tips into an inspirational poster! Title your poster “What _____ Wants You to Know,” writing your name in the blank. Add drawings and colors so the poster represents you. Then display your work somewhere in your home for your family members and friends to see! What do they think of your tips?

VIDEO
A Color for Everyone

Watch a video interview with Bellen Woodard.

In the video, Bellen’s mom says that Bellen “loves hearing from other kids.” Think about what you would want to tell Bellen, then type or write her a letter! Here are some sentence starters you can use: 

 

  • You inspired me most by . . . 
  • I think it’s important to help people be more understanding of each other because. . . 
  • A time I spoke up and helped others feel included was when . . .

 

With an adult family member, visit Bellen’s “More Than Peach” project website and send her your letter! 

SLIDESHOW
Being Inclusive

Use these ideas to create a welcoming environment for all. 

To be inclusive means to include everyone and be welcoming to all. What could you do to make your school or community more inclusive? Use the slideshow above to make a plan! 

This article was written by Nicole Tocco for Scholastic News magazine.

Image Credits: Rodney Choice/AP Images for Scholastic, Inc. (Bellen, family); Courtesy of the Woodard family (crayons)