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'Brown Like Me' kits help kids of color see themselves in books, toys at an early age

Seeds of Caring is partnering with the YWCA to help kids of color see themselves in their books and toys at an early age.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — This Black History Month, 10TV is looking at how representation plays a role in everything from business to kids’ playtime.

Seeds of Caring, a local organization helping kids find opportunities to engage in service, social action and community-building, is partnering with the YWCA to help kids of color see themselves in their books and toys at an early age.  

They're doing that by giving kids the tools to create care packages called 'Brown Like Me' kits, that include toys such as books, dolls, and action figures representing all colors. 

"I love it and my kids love it because they actually feel connected to the book. They feel like, 'Oh, this is me,'" said Mahonale Waters, who has two daughters ages 7 and 3.  

Waters and her daughters, Kayden and Mia, have benefited from the YWCA family center, which is distributing the 'Brown Like Me' packages in March. 

Something as simple as using crayons that represent a child's true skin tone can make all the difference, Waters explains. 

"To see the crayon be of color, I'm like, 'Hey, draw your picture of how you would see your book if you were to have a book,'" she said.  

To have the ability to see themselves as the icons they read about is important, Waters said.  

"I think it's incredible for our culture to be able to connect with that online, in a book, in movies, in a comic book," Waters said. "It just really allows us to see that there is an opportunity for us and for the YWCA to actually provide that for the children here, I mean, it really connects the families to make them feel like, 'Wow – we can be that.'" 

Liz Martin, kindness core coordinator at Seeds of Caring, tells 10TV that the project benefits the kids who assemble the care packages as well by sparking important conversations about race and representation. 

"When we give children the power to make a difference in their community with simple skills that they have at home, that just come from their own caring and their own feeling and understanding how other children feel, they start to see their world in a bigger place," she said. "They start to learn the value of empathy and how they really can be contributors to the world around them." 

To learn more about the 'Brown Like Me' kits, how to get involved and the Seeds of Caring organization, click here.

Each project highlights a kid making a difference in their own community, Martin said, adding that this specific project highlights Marley Dias of the #1000BlackGirlBooks.  

In 2016, Dias had a goal to collect 1,000 books that featured Black female protagonists.  

After going viral Dias collected more than 12,000 books and that number keeps growing.  

You can read more about her story here.