The Global Cardboard Challenge

Posted on September 25, 2013

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Caine’s Arcade, for those of you who don’t know (and didn’t read my friend and colleague Therese’s post last year), was an elaborate do-it-yourself cardboard arcade that Caine Monroy built during his summer vacation when he was nine years old. It was through this arcade that Caine met Nirvan Mullick who helped Caine’s Arcade go global and inspire millions by launching the Imagination Foundation and the Global Cardboard Challenge.

Although the arcade was open all summer long, Nirvan (a Los Angeles-based filmmaker) was Caine’s first customer. He stopped by Caine’s father’s auto parts store in East Los Angeles on the last day of the summer looking for a used door handle for his ’96 Toyota Corolla. Unlike most of the customers that came in and out of the auto part store, Nirvan was curious enough to check out the arcade. And it’s safe to say that he left with so, so much more than he ever could have imagined.

Caine had spent months preparing everything, perfecting the game design, making displays for the prizes, designing elaborate security systems and hand labeling gift bags. Nirvan learned upon walking into the arcade that he could get two turns for $1 or for $2 he could get a Fun Pass with 500 turns. He got the Fun Pass!

Having been moved by Caine’s imagination and effort, and wanting to put his filmmaking skills to use, Nirvan went back to talk with Caine and his father about making a short film. Through this follow-up conversation, Nirvan learned that he was Caine’s first and only customer. Wanting to help make Caine’s dream come true and knowing it would be great footage for the short film, Nirvan organized a flash mob of customers to show up on October 5th (2011). From that point on until the arcade closed earlier this summer (so Caine could work toward his next dream of opening up a bike shop), there was no shortage of customers. When the video was complete, (which you can watch here), it became a viral phenomenon and raised over $236,000 for a scholarship set aside for Caine’s education.

As if that weren’t incredibly heartwarming and impressive enough, Nirvan knew that there was a huge opportunity to celebrate the creativity of each child and the role communities can play in fostering it. He made another video which focused on Caine’s Arcade going global and making a bigger impact on children and supporting the amazing results of their creativity. This is how the Global Cardboard Challenge was born. 

According to the website, “In the month of September, kids are challenged to create and build using cardboard, recycled materials and imagination. Then on October 5th, 2013 (the anniversary of the flash mob that came out to make Caine’s day in the short film) communities all around the world will come together and play!”

The Cardboard Challenge:

  • Let’s children explore their interests and passions.
  • Teaches valuable “21st century” skills like critical thinking, resourcefulness, perseverance and teamwork.
  • Brings communities together to foster and celebrate child creativity.

To learn how you can get involved, please visit the Cardboard Challenge website where you can find an event in your area or create one yourself. In its second year, the Cardboard Challenge is looking to engage 1 million kids in 70 countries in creative play. With over 65,000 participants in 36 countries so far (this number is increasing at an impressive clip each day), you too can play an important role in furthering the amazing creativity of the children in our lives. 


A passionate advocate of event fundraising and customer service, Molly Fast has been working as an event fundraiser since 2002. As the daughter of a 13-year breast cancer survivor, cancer has hit very close to home and Molly has dedicated herself to helping others see their potential in making this world a better place. At Event 360, Molly combines her love of customer service with event fundraising. When she’s not taking photos in Santa Monica, where she lives with her husband and their black lab Clancy, Molly can be found wandering around Ireland. You can find Molly onGoogle+Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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