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Digital Arts Olympiad

Digital Arts Olympiad

International Child Art Foundation

Program Summary

Engage 250 children and youth from the low-income areas of District of Columbia to produce original digital art under the Digital Arts Olympiad of the International Child Art Foundation. Through project-based learning, introduce children in five DC libraries the “Artist-Athlete Ideal” of the creative mind and healthy body — mens sana in corpore sano. Our instructors implement the Digital Arts Olympiad Lesson Plan which inspires students to visualize their favorite physical activity and thoughtfully render it in digital art. This causes inactive students to create an animated and active image of self, motivating them to engage in physical activity on a regular basis. Similarly, by tapping into sport through artistic mediums, already active students will see how art and technology can grant them new perspectives on their present interests. Consequently, these active students will be motivated to engage in more artistic projects. Both sets of students will gain empathy for one another by realizing that they are not as different from one another as they think — a skill that they can carry with them as they confront socio-economic divisions in their communities.

Agenda

Rising obesity, declining creativity, and living in divided, crime ridden communities are three major challenges our children face. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels, affecting between 16 and 33 percent of American children and adolescents; obesity’s annual cost to society is estimated at nearly $100 billion. Along with this, the creativity scores of Americans have consistently inched downward since 1990, as reported in Newsweek magazine’s cover story titled The Creativity Crisis, July 10, 2010. Crime, furthermore, while on the downswing since the 1990s in the United States, is still a major problem in poorer areas-especially in places where the divide between the wealthy and the poor is especially stark. According to “The Dynamics of Poverty and Crime,” a recent article published by Arizona State University, “there is a direct correlation between poverty and criminality,” and urban centers suffer the highest crime rates.

Obesity, declining creativity, and crime are easy problems to recognize but difficult to treat through conventional means that do not engage and empower children. First, as mental health and physical health are connected, children who are obese often lack confidence. They find it difficult to gain the perspective necessary for breaking the cycle of obesity. Therefore, obesity leads not only to physical problems, including a higher propensity for other diseases, but also to emotional difficulties. But emotional problems also arise from the inability to think creatively, an inability related to poverty and feelings of disenfranchisement. Without the ability to think creatively, a capacity which allows children to adopt one another’s perspectives, children cannot develop the empathy necessary to engage fully with others seemingly unlike them and to generate more peaceful communities. However, when children are creative, they can discover solutions since change is intrinsic to creative critical thinking.

Disadvantaged children are at the highest risk of a ‘creativity slump,’ obesity, and feelings of isolation that lead to victimization and criminal outbursts. Our experience indicates that children in low income families do not typically have the opportunity for the creative expression that fosters empathy, or to learn the connection between mental and physical health.

Five DC public libraries will be selected for the Digital Arts Olympiad. Two-hour long sessions will be conducted with about 25 students, a total of ten sessions. The Digital Arts Olympiad will hence engage and benefit at least 250 students this July and early August in the District of Columbia.

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