Caine’s Arcade, Part 2: Turning One Child’s Passion Into a Global Movement

Foundation celebrates kids' creativity

Could the next industrial revolution be powered by cardboard? Pint-sized entrepreneur Caine Monroy is expanding his footprint after making headlines this spring when a short film, "Caine's Arcade," directed by Interconnected partner Nirvan Mullick, went viral—chronicling the 9-year-old's fantastical arcade, fashioned from boxes and other discarded items in his dad's East L.A. used-auto-parts shop. (The enterprising youngster charged $2 for a 500-turn "fun pass" and even fashioned a "security system" with old calculators to verify each ticket.) Caine showed up at Cannes in June, no doubt confusing the ad types, since, unlike many of them, he actually makes inspiring stuff that people enjoy. Now, Mullick has launched the Imagination Foundation (funded by the Goldhirsh Foundation) to foster creativity among young people worldwide. "One of the things I learned from this experience is how a small gesture can change the life of a child," Mullick explains in a follow-up to the original video. Oct. 6 marks the one-year anniversary of the flash mob at the original arcade that set Caine's fame into motion. The foundation has organized a "Global Cardboard Challenge" for the date, inviting kids and adults to plan and participate in events to celebrate creativity and ingenuity. Giving kids the right tools and some encouragement, says Mullick, helps them "imagine the world they can build" and live up to their potential. (In the new clip, a NASA engineer who heads the Mars rover project recounts building cardboard rocket ships as a boy.) Caine's story captures capitalism at its best and takes consumerism full-circle in an amazingly positive way. Old boxes, broken toys and discarded tech devices aren't just recycled, they are reborn, given new life as useful forms that fuel further invention and commerce. It's a tale of transformation that applies not only to the cardboard, but, more importantly, to the enthusiasm, confidence and imaginations of kids all over the world.

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.