Children from around the world attended a special festival in Washington this past weekend to celebrate children's involvement in the arts.  The Art Olympiad festival -- held in front of the U.S. Capitol -- showcased children's art and included workshops and performances. VOA's Ruth Reader has more.

Three million children submitted artwork about their favorite sport to the International Child Art Foundation's Art Olympiad. The foundation selected 100 of those children to showcase their work amidst workshops and performances by their peers.

One winner, 11-year-old Matthew Bastion from New Zealand, had to raise $9,000 to travel to the U.S.

"I got to the festival by raising money, by selling my paintings, from $200 to about $1,000 in a fundraising exhibition, and they all went," says Bastion.

At the festival, Matthew and other winners of the Art Olympiad participated in workshops hosted by college professors and major corporations. Art Foundation Founder and Director, Ashfaq Ishaq, says children deserve the opportunity to explore the different avenues of art.

"We at the International Child Art Foundation recognize the power of the arts, but we also recognize the limitation of the arts,? says Ishaq. ?So, we have to integrate the arts with science, sport and technology for the development of a child's creativity and for the development of a child's empathy.

The festival's workshops were free and open to the public. Children had the chance to create artwork or listen to drummers and other performers. Toy manufacturer Lego offered children the chance to help build a model of the United States, called Creation Nation.

Along with integrating art forms, Ishaq had the winners of the Art Olympiad engage in collective art projects with members of the foundation board. Most of these children did not speak the same language.

"Art is a universal language so you really do not need all of the children to speak the same language and they communicate through their art," says Ishaq.

This year, Art Olympiad winners created collective artwork for supporters of the foundation.

Sisylia Chandra is a youth board member from Indonesia supervising one collective artwork.

"Right now I am helping the children from around the world,? says Chandra. ?We are doing painting, and yes, it's basically for Adidas, so we're doing a painting that's connected to Adidas."

Ishaq hopes the art program will help nourish empathy in children.

"We give them leadership training and hope that these will be the children -- the next generation -- that will, you know,  build a more just, a more prosperous and a non-violent world,? says Ishaq.

The International Child Art Foundation hopes to showcase this year's art work in Chicago, Shanghai, and later in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.