Culture

9-Year-Old Creates 'More Than Peach' Project To Spread Awareness About Multiple Skin Tones

9-Year-Old Creates 'More Than Peach' Project To Spread Awareness About Multiple Skin Tones

What an awesome idea!

9-year-old Bellen Woodard is the creator of the “More than Peach” project, an initiative that uses crayon colors as a way to tackle perceptions about skin colors among young children, The Washington Post reports. 

Bellen says it all started while she was in class at her school in Loudoun County, Virginia. “My friends were asking for the ‘skin-color’ crayon,” she said. She says she knew that they were referring to the peach-colored crayon and as the only Black girl in her grade that bothered here since her skin isn’t the color of peaches. 

The fourth grader went home to talk to her mother about why the incident made her feel uncomfortable or as Woodard says herself, “disincluded.” Her mother, Tosha Woodard, offered a very simple solution, “Just hand them the brown one instead.” But even that didn’t sit well with Bellen, to which she replied, “I think I just want to ask them what color they want because it could be any number of beautiful colors.” 

Bellen returned to school and began doing just that, simply asking her classmates exactly which color they were referring to, which then prompted her teacher to begin doing the same thing. The simple everyday exchanges sparked the “More than Peach” project.

“If this could happen here, we could make this happen anywhere. I felt it should also be in other schools because everyone else should know that there is more than one skin color,” Bellen said. 

The “More than Peach” project is an initiative that involves donating art supply kits to classrooms and children who may not be able to afford them. The kits include a drawing pad, standard box of crayons or colored pencils, a personal postcard from Bellen, and a special box of Crayola’s Multicultural crayons or colored pencils. Each multicultural box of crayons includes a variety of skin tones including apricot, burnt sienna, mahogany, and of course, peach.

Photo Courtesy of The Washington Post

The initial goal was to get the multicultural kits into every elementary and middle school art class in her county and for that, she used her own money and hosted a fundraising drive with the help of her school. But once the word spread, donations started flooding in from everywhere.

“It’s been crazy. They just come all day. From all over the country,” Tosha Woodard said. And so is Bellen’s accolades. Since the project started, she has received so much press, proclamations from the Leesburg mayor and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, an invitation to be honored on the House floor, and a request to become a part of The Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Tracy Jackson, head of counseling services for Loudoun County Public Schools reached out to Bellen in a note saying, “Thank you so much for your courage to speak out so that students of color can be represented authentically when completing art assignments in school.” 

Bellen said she never thought her project would get this big, not thinking a small pack of crayons could have this much impact. “I was thinking at first it was going to be a small project, that only a few people would know about it at my school. But I never really thought about [the multicultural crayons]. They were just another pack of crayons to me. Now, they are more than just a pack of crayons. Now, they are a kind of change,” Bellen said.

Congratulations Bellen! Thank you for all that you are doing!

Photo Courtesy of The Washington Post