USA

Girl raises money to buy multicultural crayons, books for schools

Rising third-grader Madison Wilson is on a mission to raise money to bring multicultural crayons and construction paper, as well as books with diverse characters, to local schools. So far, she has helped raise over $20,000 toward her cause. 

Madison's mom, Tameka "Vashti" Wilson, said the idea to raise money was sparked when Madison was speaking with her about the lack of diverse characters in the movies she often watches.

Madison then became frustrated that she could never find the right shade of brown when drawing pictures of herself — and realized many other kids were facing a similar problem. Madison had heard of the new Crayola crayon pack, "Colors of the World," and wanted to raise money to bring the crayons to her California school, Vashti said.

The pack consists of 24 crayons "designed to mirror and represent over 40 global skin tones across the world," according to a May press release. The product was scheduled to begin hitting shelves this month, although it is listed as currently not available on Crayola's website. 

Madison also noticed something about the characters in children's books. 

"Madison asked me, her mom, why there weren't more brown people in the books she read," Vashti told CBS News via Facebook Messenger. "I told her about how when I was a kid my favorite books had blonde, blue-eyed girls in them and how I rarely saw a girl that looked like me. Madison loves to read (places at the 6th grade, 5th month level) and wanted to bring books to her school that featured kids of all colors."

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Madison holds her favorite book, "The Big Bed," as she smiles with her mom, Vashti.  Tameka Vashti Wilson

So, Madison and her mom started a GoFundMe called "Help Fill Madi's Treasure Box" to raise money to donate multicultural crayons, books and construction paper to her school so all kids would be represented in the classroom.

"By raising money for multi-cultural books, crayons and construction paper, kids will always be able to represent themselves accurately in classroom projects, and see people that look like them in the books they read," said Vashti. "To be it, a child has to see it…difficult to do when they are underrepresented in classroom materials."

The fundraiser, which was created on June 19, has now raised over $20,000 toward the classroom supplies and books. The campaign has been so successful, Madison is now planning to donate not just to her own school but also four others in the area. Vashti said teachers and students are "thrilled" to be receiving the supplies. 

"For children, being able to draw themselves accurately or read a book that has characters that look just like them provides a sense of belonging and helps them feel less isolated in the world. This is especially important for children that may look different than a majority of their classmates," Vashti said. "No child should feel out of place. Incorporating multicultural tools in schools gives children a voice and creates a sense of community in the classroom."

So far, Madison and her mom have purchased 100 reams of multicultural construction paper and are placing an order for 500 books, Vashti said. She said they have also been trying to purchase "thousands" of the "Colors of the World" Crayola boxes, but the company has yet to return to their calls or emails. 

While the fundraiser is set to end on July 15, Vashti said Madison is thinking about turning the idea into a nonprofit "that can bring multicultural tools to classrooms across the nation."

"Madison is a force to be reckoned with and I want to support her in achieving all of her dreams so other girls of color can see that anything is possible," she said.

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