This morning I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Ashfaq M. Ishaq. (Click on his name and then open the document to read more about him.) My purpose was twofold - to find out more about the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) so I could pass that information on to readers; and, I wanted to let the ICAF know about my calendar project. I was nervous about calling (I mean I was calling to tell them that I was giving them money after all... wait a second, why was I nervous again?? Ha!), but Dr. Ishaq put me at ease immediately. He was kind and gracious, humble, and generous with his time. In fact, he was everything I respect in a person and exactly the kind of person I would expect to run an organization like this. I was NOT expecting to talk to the founder of the organization, but they put me right through to him!
Here is a summary of my call with him (cut short when my 4 year old came searching for me and yelling for me to stop talking! Of course...)
Me: What gave you the idea of starting the ICAF?
Dr. Ishaq: 17 years ago I was amazed that there was no national organization for arts for children in the United States. Most organizations are at the local or state level. We all know that there is power in the arts - art is a powerful universal language. We believe in the power of art in encouraging creativity and empathy in children - essential traits for solving problems our world faces now and in the future.
Me: Is there a particular project within the ICAF that needs support now? I know that you run several programs.
Dr Ishaq: Of course - The flagship program is the Arts Olympiad which is a free program for schools and students, but of course it is not free for us! For every $1 we receive, we can engage 1 more child. So we are very cost effective. Many schools do not even have art teachers or programs anymore, so in this way we can bring art back to communities and students who no longer have easy access to them.
Me: Why should people support ICAF?
Dr. Ishaq: For a better future for all. All the problems we have we need creativity and empathy to solve.
Me: If there was 1 thing you want people to know, what would it be?
Dr. Ishaq: There is a phenomenon we call the 4th grade slump. Children are born creative and curious. For whatever reason children in this age range (8-12 years old) who were previously uninhibited in creative expression become less creative.
At this point my Gerry desperately needed me! So our conversation ended quickly. I have to say I was surprised by his last answer. I felt like my questions were a bit redundant (I blame it on "mommy-brain"!) so I thought he would again emphasize the importance of empathy and creativity in solving problems (and I, of course, completely agree with him on this point!) So when he brought up the creativity slump I was at once intrigued. I (surprisingly) have my own theories about why this occurs (ok, I know... it's not so surprising) but what I most admire about Dr. Ishaq and the ICAF is the focus on taking action to combat the problem.
This morning I woke up a little bit tired and not feeling very motivated. But I had it in my mind that I wanted to try getting in touch with someone from the ICAF. When I found out that I'd be talking to the Founder himself, I definitely got a little adrenaline rush. But Dr. Ishaq was so wonderful that my nerves quickly settled and I learned that this organization is every bit as remarkable as I thought it was the first time I read their mission statement. I love that he had this idea and he set out to put this plan into action and now the ICAF is flourishing.
I learned this morning the power of picking up the phone and making a new connection. I learned that by taking a small step I can change the dynamic of my whole day. Most importantly, I learned that even I, a stay-at-home-mom, can be an agent of change by using the resources and time available to me.
We've already sold almost 20 calendars and now that I know that even $1 makes a difference for a child somewhere, I feel great about the contribution we'll be making to the ICAF. But there are still 5 more days to buy a calendar and help me spread the word! Click here to read the original post about my project and see the artwork. Please share this post or any of the others I've written about the project. If you're ready to buy now, click the button below. Each calendar is $15 (inluding tax and shipping) and 100% of the profits are being donated to the ICAF.
Thanks for reading and your continued support! I'm learning so much through this project.
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