Caine’s Arcade

Through my work with the Buck Institute for Education, I came across this video. It remains one of the greatest stories I’ve heard…ever. The story starts with a random moment of goodness: a man walks into an auto parts store in East L.A and has the openness to let one boy’s passion and ingenuity inspire him. This is the story of Caine’s Arcade:



If the story ended there, it would be a wonderful, moving, good story of a boy, his fabulous creation, and a talented, kind maker of documentaries. What happens next makes the story great.


The story of Caine’s Arcade inspires thousands of kids around the world to build, dream, and play. Schools and organizations begin building their own arcades out of things. Young people are given license to dream. Imagination Foundation is created, and people like Jack Black and Sir Ken Robinson get involved.

Now, Imagination Foundation is a worldwide movement to celebrate creativity in children. Each October (mark your calendar for October 10, 2015), individuals and groups can take part in the Cardboard Challenge (more on that here). Either on multiple days or just one-day events, kids from around the world will create games, toys, and whole worlds out of cardboard, recycled materials, and their own imaginations. So far, there have been 250,000 participants from 46 different countries.

I came across this story when visiting a school in San Jose, CA, the Katherine Smith Elementary School. I was researching how the school was adopting project-based learning to improve all aspects of the school. One classroom, inspired the by first video, had decided to make their own arcade and donate the proceeds to a local cancer center. However, that wasn’t even the most compelling part. Caine’s story and their resulting project were changing the way they looked at their own education. They fully embraced their own abilities to dream and create. You can hear me talk about that great school here.


Do you know a great story about young people inspired to dream? Reach out in the comments to tell your story. It may just win a prize.


Next up: The Sound of Music Meets Social Justice