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

Rodney Choice/AP Images for Scholastic, Inc. 

A Color for Everyone

Bellen Woodard’s crayons help kids feel included while celebrating 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 her a question. She had heard it many times before. You might have too.

“Would you please pass the skin-colored crayon?”

As usual, Bellen handed the peach crayon to her friend. 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 kind of feel not as important,” says Bellen, who’s now in fifth grade. “Like there’s only one skin color.”

She wanted her friends to stop thinking of peach as the only skin color. Different kids needed other crayons to draw themselves. But how could she change the way her classmates thought about skin color?

When Bellen Woodard was in third grade, a classmate asked her a question. She had heard it before. You might have too.

"Would you please pass the skin-colored crayon?”

Bellen handed the peach crayon to her friend. But something bothered her. She was the only Black girl in her grade. Peach matched the skin color of most of her classmates. But it didn’t match hers. So why did everyone call it the skin-colored crayon?

“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 friends to stop thinking of peach as the only skin color. Different kids needed other crayons to draw themselves. But how could she change the way her classmates thought about skin color?

Time for a Change

Bellen talked to her mom, who had a suggestion. The next time someone asked for the skin-colored crayon, why not pass the brown crayon—the one that’s her skin color? But Bellen had a different idea.

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

Bellen’s teacher thought it was a great idea and told the class. Before long, they stopped referring to peach as skincolored. The language in her entire school changed as well.

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

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

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

Bellen’s teacher thought it was a great idea. She told the class. Before long, they stopped calling peach skin-colored. So did rest of 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 brothers help her fill the packets and ship them out.

More Than Peach

Courtesy of family

In 2019, Bellen’s More Than Peach Project was born. Bellen decided that, in order for people to celebrate each other’s differences, 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 that she had saved up to order crayons in diverse skin tones. She packed them with sketch pads and donated them to schools near her home in Leesburg, Virginia.

Before long, word of Bellen’s project spread on social media. Many kids were excited to finally have the colors they needed to draw themselves. Suddenly, people across the country were asking for the crayons. Bellen decided to sell her kits online. She uses some of that money to fund her free donation packs.

In 2019, Bellen’s More Than Peach Project was born. Bellen wanted to celebrate people’s differences. She wanted to make the world 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 her own money to order crayons in diverse skin tones. She packed them with sketch pads. She donated the packs to schools near her home in Leesburg, Virginia.

Word of Bellen’s project spread on social media. Kids were excited to finally have the colors they needed to draw themselves. People across the country asked for the crayons. Bellen decided to sell her kits online. She uses some of that money to fund her donation packs.

A Bright Future

So far, Bellen has donated about 4,000 packs. And she no longer buys crayons—she has her very own brand specially made.

Bellen receives hundreds of letters and emails thanking her. In March, the Virginia state government 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 says she plans to continue to change the world—one crayon at a time. Her goal is to make sure that no one ever feels left out.

“I want to help kids be more understanding of each other,” Bellen says.

So far, Bellen has donated about 4,000 packs. And she no longer buys crayons. She has her very own brand specially made.

Bellen receives hundreds of letters and emails thanking her. In March, Virginia lawmakers passed the Bellen Bill. It honors her leadership. And the Virginia Museum of History and Culture put a More Than Peach Project pack on display. Bellen says she plans to continue to change the world—one crayon at a time. Her goal is to make sure that no one ever feels left out.

“I want to help kids be more understanding of each other,” Bellen 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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