To teach kids to respect their differences in schools across Japan, Shiseido enlisted the help of an unlikely champion: a crayon.
Until recently, the basic crayon set in all Japanese elementary schools included a “skin color” crayon. This meant that every child grew up drawing pictures with the one and same, peach colored “hada-iro”.
Partnering with schools, we offered a fun, eye-opening class about diversity. In the sessions, Shiseido scientists scanned each child’s skin to create a unique color profile, drawing on Shiseido’s 140 years of expertise in the subtle nuances of Japanese skin.
The result was matched with a crayon of the exact same color–so that each child got their own, unique ‘hada-iro’ crayon. Kids drew themselves, then swapped crayons to draw each other, turning a humble crayon into a catalyst for discovery and re-evaluation of diversity.
In schools across Japan–where homogeneity is valued–‘hafus’, kids of mixed race, are often seen as outsiders, despite being Japanese.
The problem is aggravated by the fact that’s there’s even a word for skin color: ‘hada-iro’, which 79% of the population associate with just one color: pale peach.
As an expert in skin color, Shiseido set out to educate kids with a program designed to celebrate their differences, no matter how small.
Rather than express this view through traditional communications, they partnered with teachers to take their message directly to children themselves, with a unique in-classroom experience, turning crayons into a surprising and delightful medium for diversity education in Japan.
Partnering with Yokohama Shirahata primary school, we created and piloted a unique class combining art and civics. In the session, Shiseido scientists scanned each child’s skin to create a unique color profile. This was then matched with a crayon of the exact same color – so that each child got their own unique ‘hada-iro’. Kids drew themselves, then to better understand others, they swap crayons with another child before drawing each other.
After the successful pilot, Shiseido has started rolling out the event to schools across Japan–six to date. The classes have provided a highly social, interactive, and fun way to learn about and appreciate others’ differences, creating an experience applauded by kids and teachers alike.
Since the July 2018 pilot in Shirahata Elementary School, the program has been rolling out across Japan, with six schools taking part in 2018.Participating schools have changed their curriculum to welcome this new two-hour activation by Shiseido, including Shiseido technology and custom-made crayons.
All children that participated understood the importance of diversity and respecting one another. These were just some of the comments from the kids themselves:
“Everybody has their own Hada-iro….that was a discovery.”
“I’m surprised there are 70 billion shades!”
“I now know that my Hada-iro is special and the only one in the world.”
“The differences make us us and that is what we need to respect.”
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