SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – An 11-year-old girl is redefining language and inclusivity, one crayon at a time.
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Sixth-grade Virginia student Bellen Woodard is the CEO of the "More Than Peach Project," a multi-cultural art brand which aims to transform how society views skin color.
The project began when Woodard was nine-years-old in third grade – before she skipped a grade – and heard her classmates referring to the "skin-colored" crayon, which she said "didn’t feel right."
"The problem was that people were calling the peach crayon the skin color crayon," she told KCBS Radio's Lisa Chan on Sunday. "My mom told them to hand me the brown crayon next time, but I decided I didn’t want to do that, so next time I was actually going to ask what crayon they wanted. Then when I went back to school and said that language, they started using it like me."
"I thought if I could do that in my school, I can do that in schools across the world and that's when I started the "More than a Peach" project with my own money," Woodard explained.
As a result, Woodard created her own art sets which contained a plethora of different skin-colors crayons that more accurately reflect the different cultures and communities which exist in the world.
The project which started in a classroom in Northern Virginia, has turned into a movement across the U.S. and even the world.
In the two years since the organization was founded, with a goal of getting the multicultural crayons into as many schools as possible, Bellen's mom, Tosha Woodard, told the Washington Post that her daughter has received "so many letters and drawings from kids that say, 'Bellen, we don’t use that language anymore.'"
In addition, "More than Peach" has expanded to more than just art supplies. Woodard recently authored her first book, titled "More Than Peach," which was released this month. The children's book tells the story of how the project began and the lessons Woodard wants to convey with it.
Woodard said she hopes her project inspires other kids to follow their own passions and ideas, and teaches parents to embolden their children.
"For adults, I hope they can trust the kids and just listen to them. Kids can be right. We have great ideas," she said. "Always make sure to invest in their ideas and make sure to play a big role in helping them because I know my parents and brothers have helped me, and my teachers too, and I'm here now."
"You just want to start talking about it, brainstorming ideas, and figuring out how you can help and how you can make this become a thing," she added.
Woodard has received national acclaim and attention for her efforts from high-profile figures and celebrities, including Michelle Obama and Olympic-gold medalist Simone Biles.
Her crayon sets will soon be available at Target stores nationwide, and she also plans to write more books in the future.
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