You are the creator of Color for Kids. What is Color for Kids and what age were you when you started it?
I am twelve years old now but was nine when I started Color for Kids.
Color for Kids is a non-profit organization that is helping to share color and art supplies with kids all around the world. So far, Color for Kids has shared over 500,000 crayons with more than 13,000 kids. By the end of this month, it will be over 14,000 kids. And that number will just keep growing because I don’t have any plans to stop!
What inspired you to start it?
I believe that all kids should be able to create art. The best part about art is that anyone can do it, and do it right, because there is no such thing as wrong art. You don’t even have to show it to anyone. Sometimes it is just a way to get your feelings out. Like if you are frustrated and don’t know why, you can draw a picture. Some feelings just feel like colors more than they feel like words.
What are your future goals for Color for Kids?
This is a tricky question. I don't want to stop sharing color until every kid has his or her own box of crayons but more kids who need color are born every day - it would be difficult to catch up with every single one.
For now, I just plan to keep sharing color for as long as I can. I love helping make other kids happy and I really hope to never stop.
We understand you recently traveled to Cambodia? What did you do there with Color for Kids and what can you tell us about the trip?
Cambodia is AMAZING! It's a gorgeous country filled with beautiful and kind people and I didn’t want to leave! I took over 1,000 lbs of color supplies with me, and shared it with kids all over Cambodia. Thanks to all the generous people who donated, there are now thousands of kids now have access to art supplies.
How do you get donations to Color for Kids and do you have help preparing Color for Kids donations?
Most of my donations come from schools and clubs who have color collections. Sometimes business or families donate money for me to buy color or to help with shipping. Sometimes boxes of crayons get mailed to me from people I have never met, but that want to help make the world more colorful. Even Crayola donated some cases of supplies for me to share!
My principals and teachers have all helped as much as they can, and my school has been incredible. Each year it hosts an annual fundraiser that helps to fund a color delivery. Last year this helped pay for a color delivery trip to NYC where two entire schools received color, and this year it helped me to share color in Cambodia.
Usually, I prepare the donations myself and my family helps. Once in a while I have some friends from school come and help sort out crayons if I have gotten a big donation and need extra hands.
What has been the hardest part of starting Color for Kids? What is the best part?
Public speaking is definitely the hardest part, but without telling other people about my goal to share color with kids all over the world, no one would know about Color for Kids and be able to help me. Sometimes you have to do things you think are hard, and it’s worth it when it’s for something you believe in. You can read more about public speaking and how it makes me feel HERE.
The absolute best thing ever is when I get to hand deliver art supplies. I have been able to visit schools in cities like New York and Philadelphia and hand out coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, markers and other supplies. Even though I hand out these items in schools, what I give the kids I meet is not a school supply; it’s their personal property, something that belongs just to them.
I have met a lot of kids who have never owned their own box of crayons or had their own coloring book. I couldn’t imagine that before I started sharing colors. Now I see how special it is, and how much it means to have a way to express yourself. The HUGE smiles and hugs make me want to do it again and again.
How can people get involved? What help is needed most?
I ALWAYS need color! Anyone can start a color collection at his or her school or business, and that would be a huge help. Sometimes schools will host a fundraiser like a dress down day for teachers, and then donate the money they raise to Color for Kids. This helps a lot with shipping costs – crayons are so heavy and cost a lot to mail.
If anyone has a local Rotary Club, or a Lions Club that is looking to help fund a good cause, sharing my mission there is another way to help.
Another really great way to help is just by spreading the word about Color for Kids on social media like Facebook or Instagram because then hopefully more people will see what I am doing and want to join in. Also, I have a donate button on my website, and every little bit really helps.
Who is one person that inspires you and why?
Actually, there are two people. My friend, Elsa, is like a fairy Godmother, a best friend, a teacher, and a superhero smooshed up into one person, and Mr K, the best teacher of all time. He always tells me to keep being me. He is good at reminding people to be who they are and to work hard and go after your dreams.
You can read more about how Elsa and Mr K inspired me HERE.
Do you have any advice for other tweens trying to achieve their goals?
Always ask for help! If I hadn't have asked my teacher for help, Color for Kids never would have happened.
What do you like to do for fun in your free time?
I LOVE to read...I read ALL the time! I like to snowboard, and write letters to my pen pal. I also love anything that has to do with elephants, Finland, ice cream and traveling.
I keep changing my mind about what I want to be when I grow up. Sometimes I think a bookstore owner, other times a park ranger. I even think being a cultural anthropologist would be cool. My mom says it's a good thing that I have a while to figure it out – there are a lot of options out there.
To read more about Bethany and her Color for Kids progress, visit the Color for Kids website.
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