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Authors : Ashfaq Ishaq, PhD

Spotlight on Ashfaq Ishaq

Harnessing Children's Imagination for Positive Social Change through ICAF

Ashfaq IshaqDr. Ashfaq Ishaq founded the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) to harness children's imagination for positive social change. His belief that creativity and empathy are preconditions for a more just, prosperous and nonviolent world is based on his seminal research at the World Bank and the George Washington University on entrepreneurship and small business development, military burden and security needs, digital divide and the new economy, and private provision of public services. His familiarity with the power of the arts as an effective channel for children's creative and empathic development stems from his experience as an award-winning child artist.

The Arts Olympiad program he developed to overcome the "4th grade slump" in creativity documented by E. Paul Torrance is today the world's largest and most prestigious arts and creative education initiative for children ages 8 to 12. Nearly 3 million children worldwide participated in the 3rd Arts Olympiad (2005-2008). The 2007 World Children's Festival he produced on the National Mall in Washington, DC was the world's largest international children's celebration. Dr. Ishaq has obtained an exclusive license from the U.S. Olympic Committee for the ICAF to use "Arts Olympiad" and related marks as well as secured support from some of the world's most creative companies — Adidas, Disney, Faber-Castell, Hilton, and LEGO.

In response to the tragedy of 9/11, he worked with leading psychologists and psychiatrists to develop a Peace through Art approach that was successfully field-tested in a program for Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot youth, partially funded by the Cyprus Fulbright Commission. In January 2005, he led a team of art therapists to develop a healing arts program that utilized the knowledge and experience gained from the treatment of child survivors of 9/11 to aid child victims of the Asian tsunami. Later that year ICAF volunteers were using their tsunami program experience to help Hurricane Katrina victims. Learn more about ICAF at

Ashfaq Ishaq's Interview & Articles

An Interview with Ashfaq Ishaq, PhD (2010)
By Chris Dunmire
The founder of the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) discusses how his vision for the organization unfolded, its impact in its first 13 years, and how it addresses the need for instilling collaboration over competition in children for a more peaceful world.

On the Importance of Creativity
By Ashfaq Ishaq
Creativity is a quintessential attribute of human beings. When combined with our ability to record and benefit from accumulated knowledge, it makes us the highest-order species on the planet.

Children + Creativity = Peace
By Ashfaq Ishaq
Since its founding in 1997, the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) has focused on hosting children's celebrations on The National Mall, where creative young Americans and children from around the world could explore their creativity, spark their imagination and develop bonds that last forever.