The International Child Art Foundation encourages creativity in children around the world. I am happy to state that I have been a volunteer for ICAF since 2007. During that time, I have volunteered in various capacities, promoting the organization, selling art and the magazine.
You may ask, why foster creativity in children? First of all, ICAF’s mission is to prepare children for a creative and cooperative future. The answer is creative children are more adaptive to the ever changing world that we live in. Also the development of a child’s creativity develops empathy. Together, creativity and empathy are preconditions for a just and non violent world.
According to Ashfaq Ishaq, founder and executive director of ICAF, “Research suggests that creativity can be nurtured by a holistic approach to child development encompassing cognitive, physical and emotional capacity.”
The aim of the Peace through Art Program is to use art to reduce the trans-generational transmission of trauma and hatred. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, ICAF developed a peace education methodology, which we now apply through the
Arts Olympiad. An art and sport program for children ages 8 to 12. The Arts Olympiad experience any child anywhere can experience from. The following five components form the basis of global peace building
- (1) Creativity and Self Expression-
Structured lesion plans are provided to school teachers, which informs students about the Olympiad. Ideals of peace and cooperation, while providing the framework for a school art competition in the theme My Favorite Sport. Students get to express themselves as Artists-Athletes in there artwork.
- (2) Self -esteem and confidence-
Students organize an exhibition of the art they produced and serve as judges to select the school’s entry. Student’s creativity is thus showcased and their serving as judges along with their teachers boosts their self confidence.
- (3) National Peace Building
National exhibitions are organized in participating countries to celebrate the creativity of their children. Sport and art activities at these national exhibitions help to build a vision of peace and coexistence.
- (4) Regional Peace Building
National finalists from a region or continent Participate in their regional festivals, where they celebrate national identities eliminate tension thru sport, discover their commonalities through art, A wholesome creative pride is created which the participants depict in their collaborative artwork and murals.
- (5) Global Peace-Building
National finalists from around the world participate in the World Children’s Festival, where they discover forces which unite them run deeper than the forces that divide them. Participants meet each other and seed lifelong friendships. Together they learn universal values and receive universal training so they can serve as peace-builders in their communities.
In conclusion, the Arts Olympics, a free of charge program, is the most acclaimed initiative for children 8 to 12. Approximately 5 million children have participated in the Arts Olympiad since 1997. But this is a small percentage of the 660 million children in the 8-12 age groups. With the increased support from creative and empathic individuals, the ICAF can expand their programs because many children around the world do not gain opportunity to participate in a global art program that build peace unless through the Art Olympiad experience. ICAF is sowing the seeds through peace to blossom. This could lead to a peaceful world for children and generations to com.
For more information on ICAF, you can refer to my other articles about ICAF on Yahoo Voices or you can go to the ICAF website, www.icaf.org.