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Posted by on Apr 4, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Caine’s arcade, imagination and the power of someone believing in you

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In the summer of 2011, a 9 year old boy named Caine spent his summer holiday hanging out in his Dad’s used auto parts store building an arcade.  What was different, was that this was completely built out of cardboard boxes.  All summer long, Caine sat outside the door, inviting people to play the games in his arcade.    Nobody did.  That is until a young filmmaker named Nirvan Mullick came into the store to buy a door handle for his 96 Corrolla.  Nirvan bought a Fun Pass.  It was great value, 500 turns for $2.  And that small decision, to stop and support a child has changed lives.

 Nirvan ended up speaking to Caine’s Dad who told him that he was the only person to play in Caine’s arcade.  Nirvan decided to set up a “surprise party” and try and get as many people as possible in LA to turn up and play.  This went viral via Facebook, made the major news stations and in October 2011, a flash mob gathered and thousands of people came to play in Caine’s Arcade and made a boy’s day.  

short film was made (see above – spend the 10 minutes watching this – it is worth it) and launched in April 2012 and started a movement.  Within 2 days nearly 1.5 million people had watched this video and shortly after, the Imagination Foundation was formed with the mission of “to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers who have the tools they need to build the world they imagine”.

Since then over $230,000 has been raised for Caine’s college fund, people like Jack Black have brought their children to play in the arcade (and play themselves) and last October there was a global event called the Cardboard Challenge which had children participating from over 41 countries a year to the day that the “surprise party” had occurred to make Caine’s day.  Caine himself has grown in confidence, his stuttering has disappeared and he is doing heaps better at school.

But this story isn’t just about a child’s imagination.  No, this is about one person taking a moment to believe in someone’s dream.  In the follow up film, Caine’s Dad says about Nirvan, “He saw something in my son that nobody else saw”.  How easily would it have been for that summer to finish with not one person really seeing Caine and his dream.  How likely would it be that the arcade would have been packed up, the cardboard recycled and Caine to go back to normal life at school.

But that didn’t happen.  Nirven saw Caine, he saw Caine’s dream and he believed in this child and changed Caine’s life, his own life and has positively impacted thousands of others.  All from one short moment where he decided to believe in a child and his dream.

My background is in Human Resources and a conversation I have had with so many people managers and leaders is that they have a huge responsibility in how they impact their people’s lives.  When a parent, teacher or manager believes in us (or not), this can change the trajectory of our lives.  We are human beings, we are built for connection and having another person really see who we are and to back our dream or our vision is potentially one of the most powerful connections with the biggest impact.  Our words and actions have weight.  And we don’t often realise that something we say or do have the power to change lives.

How often do we fling away a comment without thinking about what we are saying or the impact.  Sometimes we find out, like the time my husband met a guy who had worked for him a decade prior.  Sometimes we may never know.

But think back now about who believed in you; either as a child or an adult.  Remember what that meant, how that felt, how that inspired you and gave your courage.  And today, I challenge us all, who can we really “see” today.  Who is sitting somewhere with their dream that only needs one person to take one moment to believe in it for them.

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