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creativity column

The power of imagination.

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Back in 2012, there was a nine-year-old boy named Caine Monroy, who constructed an entire arcade out of cardboard in the front of his Father's used auto parts store in East Los Angeles. One day, as Caine was sitting out front waiting for anyone to play his arcade, Nirvan Mullick, a local filmmaker, wandered into the store to buy a door handle for his 1996 Corolla. Caine's father was often so busy working to keep his auto parts business going that he never fully realized what Caine was doing with all that cardboard that he was fishing out of the dumpster in the back of the store. 

Nirvan became Caine's first customer. Because most of the auto parts business gets done online, Caine didn't get much foot traffic to his arcade. Nirvan was so impressed with Caine's creativity and ingenuity that he decided that he was going to put Caine's story on video. Neither of them could realize at the time how their lives were going to change once that ten-minute video got uploaded to the internet.

People were overwhelmed by Caine's imagination. Nirvan also decided he was going to help Caine realize his dream, by helping him get customers to come out to play. He organized a flash mob to show up at the arcade in the hopes of giving Caine the surprise of his life. 

Caine's reaction on the video as he pulls up to his arcade and sees the hundreds of children and adults waiting in line for him to open the arcade is pure cinema magic. It's hard not to get emotional watching it. If you've never seen the video, you can view at www.cainesarcade.com

The video quickly went viral and was viewed over a million times in twenty-four hours. In the span of two days, Caine took his imagination and love of arcades and a global movement was born. Caine and Nirvan have since traversed the globe giving speeches at numerous colleges and universities, business summits; they even did a TED Teen Talk. To date, there is now over $240,000 in Caine's college scholarship fund which got donated after people saw the video and wanted to help this young man that he might afford a college education. 

Caine's story is the ultimate example of thinking outside the box. I don't think there's any doubt that Caine is going to do great things with his life. He's accomplished so much already, and he just got started. Caine is now fourteen years old, spends his time in middle school and looks forward every year to the Global Cardboard Challenge that engages over 500,000 kids in 70 countries to dream big and create something from their imaginations entirely out of cardboard. 

Shortly after the video posted in 2012, Nirvan Mullick observed, "Any moment can be transformed into an opportunity to change the life of a child or to come up with the next big idea. "Sometimes all it takes is a little imagination."

William ChildsComment