By Hannah Saunders
Arushi Choudhury is in her junior year at Woodinville High School. During the summer of 2020, she began working to build a nonprofit called Color for Empowerment, which aims to educate the youth about relevant and ongoing issues through activity-based coloring books.
“I was just at home and realized how I didn’t have many things to do per se because school ended, and summer started. I couldn’t hang out with friends—I was just stuck at home all day,” Arushi said. “I thought if I was so bored and if I had so little to do, how must children be feeling right now?”
Arushi founded Color for Empowerment to entertain and educate children between the ages of 5 to 10 in times of quarantine and isolation. She managed and designed her first coloring book, “South Asia Coloring Book,” released in 2020, and her second coloring book, “How to Save the Oceans,” released in September of this year.
“I get my inspiration from personal characteristics all around me,” Arushi said. “So, the first coloring book was the south Asian countries and cultures, so most of that was from personal experience or things I’ve seen throughout my entire childhood.”
Model United Nations (MUN), an extracurricular primarily geared for high school students focused on debating economic and social issues across the globe, encouraged Arushi to create “How to Save the Oceans.” Arushi joined MUN at the beginning of her sophomore year in September of 2020.
“We’ve been debating economic topics such as maritime policy, which is related to the ocean, and fashion and how that’s related to the environment,” Arushi said. “I thought children could be more informed about this too and it came to my mind.”
The idea to focus on ocean pollution stemmed from her participation in MUN committees. There are different aspects to the two halves of the “How to Save the Ocean” coloring book.
“The first few pages of the book feature characteristics such as word search with ocean animals, tic tac toe games featuring ocean animals and connect the dots,” Arushi said.
Then comes a transition page that explains how ocean pollution harms all those marine creatures.
“The second half of the book talked about impacts of garbage pollution in the ocean—recycling bins, compost bins, and the difference between them,” Arushi said. “On those pages where we’re talking about how fruits and veggies can go into a compost bin, we have a cut out of apples and oranges that children can color.”
Color for Empowerment donated all its proceeds from the “South Asia Coloring Book” to a Seattle-based nonprofit called API-GBV, which fights towards ending gender-based violence across the globe to include abuse and trafficking. “How to Save the Oceans” proceeds will go to Oceana, an organization focused on ocean conservation and marine life protection.
“It’s really popular and big, so most people interested in ocean conservation are aware that this is a legitimate organization,” Arushi said.
For the time being, Arushi and her team of two will focus on marketing “How to Save the Oceans,” in addition to promoting their first coloring book. She plans on doing in-person child-related events such as a coloring contest or a library presentation. Some ideas for additional coloring books include themes like Pride Month and Black History Month.
“Once we have more books, we’ll reach a bigger audience—start with Northshore, then Seattle,” Arushi said.
Arushi plans to attend college after high school and is interested in pursuing a degree in business. She plans to continue Color for Empowerment throughout college and create coloring books geared toward college students and dealing with stress.
“I also hope to be an Amazon publisher sometime so I can sell my coloring books on Amazon, too, and reach a bigger audience,” Arushi said.
Although her current coloring books cater to younger age groups, the Color for Empowerment website has a blog for higher-level readers such as teenagers and adults. It includes coverage of topics on female Muslim figures in U.S. politics, sexual harassment statistics in the United Kingdom, Asian Pacific Heritage Month and Earth Day.
Color for Empowerment is more active on Instagram than Facebook and works toward educating followers on ongoing social issues via the platforms. To learn more about the nonprofit or to purchase one of her coloring books, visit www.colorforempowerment.com.