One’s age should never hinder them from being agents of change because as the saying goes, “if there is no seat at the table for you, create one.” Bellen Woodard, realizing there was no crayon that truly represented her skin shade, created her own multicultural crayons through her ‘More than Peach project’.
This project made her the world’s first crayon activist. Earlier this month, she was named Time Magazine’s Kid of the Year honoree, making her one of the youngest to make it to the top five out of over 5000 candidates.
Being the only Black student in her class, she noticed that anytime one of her classmates wanted the ‘skin-color’ crayon, the peach crayon was handed out. Frustrated about the lack of inclusion in the range of colors, Woodard spoke with her mom, who suggested alternative colors. That suggestion was not satisfactory enough to the then 9-year-old.
Wanting to make sure that no child feels “disincluded” and to change the narrative surrounding the standard ‘skin-color’ crayon in her classroom and beyond, she started the ‘More Than Peach Project’ with her savings in Spring 2019.
Unknown to the Virginia native, her attempt to create an all-inclusive multicultural crayon sparked a national movement.
Her initial goal was to “change the language” about skin-colored crayons by donating multicultural crayons with bundles of art to more than 80,000 classrooms and schools. Woodard loves school, so she did that and more by adding curriculum supplies for students with every donation.
After giving out over $40,000 worth of ‘skin-color’ crayons, Woodard’s More than Peach Project has evolved into a non-profit organization and her mission is to “empower students; build awareness; support opportunities in gifted education; and dismantle “perception gaps”—providing an enriching experience to students & adults and creating a platform for all to be heard!” according to her site.
The efforts of the 10-year-old to bridge the diversity gap has not gone unnoticed. The Virginia General Assembly, Virginia’s legislative body, passed the “Bellen Bill” to honor her works with her non-profit.
In addition to that, “Bellen’s Palette Packet” has a new home in the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC), where it will always be on display.
Gold medalist gymnast Simone Biles was the bearer of good news, surprising Woodard with the Time Magazine’s “Kid of the Year” honoree news. All the honorees will receive $5,000 to support their various causes and they get to be with the magazine as guest reporters.
“It feels really good because I want everyone to not feel dis-included and to know that they’re amazing just the way they are,” Woodard told Biles.
To further share her love for diversity, Woodard has launched her merchandise, “Boy Meets Girl x Crayon Activist,” inspired by her motto, “Be you. Brilliant” with New York designer Stacy Igel that features doodles for from the 9th grader.
The young activist added that she created the ‘More than Peach’ multicultural crayons to “best represent a genuine mission and spirit” and to touch as many lives as possible to always “Be you. Brilliant.” To her, #MoreThanPeach will always be about #MoreThanCrayons.