Global prosperity and world peace are not impossible tasks unfit for humankind. Abject poverty can be eradicated. Children need not die of starvation or preventable diseases. Employment opportunities can grow despite any job-eliminating tsunami triggered by advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The youth bulge that has swelled populations under 15 to 41% in Africa, for example, can become an energetic workforce for domestic industries reducing incentives for the young to migrate to richer pastures and cause social disruptions at home and political disruptions in host countries.
The piecemeal solutions of policymakers or philanthropists are not the answer. Essential is a holistic approach invoking the fundamentals responsible for building civilization or saving it. Creativity and empathy are undeniably the most salient attributes because creativity cultivates ideation, discovery and invention while empathy grows compromise, concord and collaborative innovation. These attributes nurture new entrepreneurs to mindfully leverage latest technologies and grow employment opportunities. These attributes also empower peacemakers to reverse the rising trend in violence worldwide—the economic cost of which has risen to $14.8 trillion according to the 2018 Global Peace Index report.
The development of creativity and empathy must start early, however, with schoolchildren. That is, before the well-documented “4th-grade slump” in creativity gains a foothold and stunts the next generation's creative development and before sectarian tensions or social prejudices muddy the “mirror neurons” responsible for empathy.
ICAF employs the arts because creativity and empathy are both rooted in the arts—children’s universal language.
ICAF’s flagship program, The Arts Olympiad, has grown into the world’s largest initiative for schoolchildren’s creative development. The Arts Olympiad winners convene for three days on The National Mall at their World Children’s Festival (WCF) where ICAF imbues their creativity with empathy and instills 21st century leadership qualities. The Arts Olympiad is free-of-charge and the WCF is free and open to the public. Widely recognized as children’s “Olympics,” the WCF is a global celebration of “Creativity, Diversity, and Unity” in our nation’s capital.