Arts Olympiad

A Good Idea


Declining creativity and rising obesity are certainly two of the most major challenges our children face. The Arts Olympiad brings the power of the arts as a force to reverse these trends. We invite your school’s participation in this innovative program, free of charge to students and school districts alike.
Creativity scores of Americans have consistently inched downward since 1990, as reported in Newsweek magazine’s July 10, 2010 cover story titled “The Creativity Crisis.” According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to detect but among the most difficult to remedy. Making lasting changes to an inclination for obesity in a child requires more than superficial declarations or behavioral mandates. As you know, several areas must be addressed but perhaps the most important is the inner life of the child.

No way is better at making a difference there than activities that foster children’s creativity and promote exercise not as a burden, but as a mode of self-expression. The Arts Olympiad Lesson Plan introduces students to the Artist-Athlete Ideal℠ of the creative mind and healthy body—mens sana in corpore sano. The objective of the lesson plan is to awaken the “inner artist” and “inner athlete” in students, so that the athletically inclined feel more free to express themselves creatively and the artistically inclined can feel more comfortable exploring physical activities.

By bringing children to these domains in terms of enjoyment, not duty or requirement, the traps of creativity slumps and physical inactivity/obesity risks can be avoided. The self-image as “artist-athlete” solidifies when a child renders it into a personal work of art, (be a painting, drawing, or digital work), such as is encouraged by the theme of the Arts Olympiad art contest, My Favorite Sport.

The Arts Olympiad Lesson Plan may take 2 to 4 class sessions to execute. We request that you kindly send your school’s entries (one best painting or drawing, and one best digital art) to us before this year’s end. In the spring of next year we will arrange an exhibition of all entries in your school district so that two winners can be selected by local educators, artists, and cultural leaders. Alternatively, if a local exhibition cannot be arranged, a prominent panel of judges in Washington, D.C. will select your district’s winners. However selected, the two winners will represent your school district at the 5th World Children’s Festival in Washington, D.C. in June 2015.

Goal / Mission

To enhance academic performance and imbue global citizenship by nurturing children’s creativity, developing empathy, and instilling healthy lifestyles.

Results / Accomplishments

Nearly one million children created artworks under ICAF's 1st Arts Olympiad (1996-1999), and more than a million participated in ICAF's 2nd Arts Olympiad (2000-2003). Children, teachers, and parents from 50 countries participated in ICAF's 1999 festival, and the 2003 festival had representatives from 70 countries. The ICAF festival model has been replicated in twelve countries already and many more are expected to host festivals based on this model in 2005/2006.

• Approximately 5 million children in 80 countries have produced art under the ICAF programs.

• The ICAF has the distinction of hosting the first national children’s art festival in U.S. history, which took place in Washington, D.C. in September 1998

• The ICAF is a pioneer in introducing children to the Artist-Athlete Ideal ℠ of the creative mind and healthy body, and informing teachers about STEAMS Education℠, which integrates Art and Sport with the STEM disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

• Since 1999 the ICAF has produced the World Children’s Festival every four years on The National Mall in Washington, D.C.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Katty Guerami
The ICAF's Arts Olympiad
1350 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Suite 1225
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 530-1000
Environment / Environmental Justice
Art & Recreation / Art
Education / School Environment
International Child Art Foundation
UN Habitat
Date of publication
For more details
Target Audience