Barbara Petchenik

Barbara Petchenik

The Barbara Petchenik Children’s World Map Competition is organized every two years by the International Cartographic Association (ICA). The first competition was held in 1993, honoring Barbara Petchenik (Canada, 1939–1992), a past Vice-president of the International Cartographic Association and cartographer who made significant contributions to the research on the theme of maps related to children.

Inspired by Barbara Petchenik’s example, Jacqueline Anderson (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada) and Regina Almeida (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil) founded the Working Group on Cartography and Children in 1995 and it became a Commission four years later. The aims of the Commission are to promote the use and enjoyment of maps by children and young people; to increase understanding of children and young people’s engagement with maps as well as to raise the standard of maps and atlases produced for them.

Big Miracle by Little Hands by Karina Balitskaya (13), Russia

One of the winning entries of the 2013 competition: “Big Miracle by Little Hands” by Karina Balitskaya (13), Russia

From its foundation the ICA Commission on Cartography and Children supports directly the organization of the competition, which is organized in interest of promoting children’s creative representation of the world, enhancing their cartographic awareness and making them more conscious of their environment. The Commission participates in different key tasks: actualization of the general rules, consultative support to the organizers of national competitions (as well as to any child or adult interested to know details related to the participation) and organization of the international competition, including the invitation of colleagues from ICA Commissions and other international organizations to be members of the Judging Commission, institution responsible of selecting the winner entries.

Children and young people under 16 years are encouraged to draw a map on a general theme. Some examples from the last years: “Save the Earth”, “Making a better world for children”, „Save our environment”, „Many nations, one world”, “Living in a globalized world” and “My place in today’s world”. Each ICA member country can name a maximum of six entries. From 2011 the map drawings are judged in four age groups (under 6,7-9, 10-12 and 13-15 years), giving a maximum of three awards by group, which are completed with the public award given by the visitors to the exhibitions.

All the entries sent by participating countries are displayed during the Barbara Petchenik International Exhibitions, which are organized within the biannual International Cartographic Conferences.

After closing the international exhibitions the entries are sent to the Maps, Data and Government Information Centre at Carleton University Library in Ottawa, Canada. All the original entries named since 1993 are archived and scanned in this institution, forming the digital collection entitled “Children Map Their World” that can be visited at the address, a website online since 2000. More information about the competition can be read on the Commission website, at The Commission also counts with a Facebook profile from 2012, which is periodically updated with information related not only to the international competition, but to the national ones too. Its address is