Talk about inspiration! With nothing to do last summer while his dad worked in the office of his East Los Angeles auto-body shop, a nine-year-old boy named Caine turned packing boxes into a cardboard arcade. His games included mini-basketball and mini-soccer. He taped old calculators to each game for PIN code access and manually distributed tickets for winning. He charged just $2 for a 500-game fun pass card, but business was slow. Most people were ordering their used car parts on-line. Then one day, a customer walked in and played in Caine's arcade. The customer had so much fun he decided to help Caine drum up business. You must watch the video to see what happened when the story of Caine's arcade went viral. If you're not moved at the end (10:50 minute mark) when Caine says, "I thought they were here for me. And they were. And I was proud," then you might want check to see if you still have a pulse.
Low-tech fun. Despite fears that kids have abandoned non-digital playing in today's world of texts and on-line games, Caine proves they have not. Imagination and creativity remain a child's best weapons against boredom, and are the ideal way to learn.
It's kids like Caine who make me hopeful that my new book Lunar Lifter will resonate with readers. It's also about two kids who transform a cardboard box into something else, but in my story the cardboard box flies them to the moon. If you're interested in learning more, there's a launch event in Halifax next Sunday, April 29 and everyone is invited.
Fact or fiction, cardboard boxes are a gateway to adventure. Know what else is? Going outside! I recently interviewed weather enthusiast and broadcaster Richard Zurawski about how he became interested and knowledgeable about science. He credits spending time outside, exploring the fields and woods growing up in a tiny community on Ontario's Georgian Bay, with teaching him concepts such as photosynthesis. Richard is also concerned by the amount of time kids spend in front of screens, and urges parents to expose their children to nature and teach them about the biggest problems our planet now faces, including climate change and ocean pollution.
I can't unplug entirely, otherwise how would I blog and have conversations with my on-line communities? However, I do believe in balance. In honour of this, and to celebrate Earth Day, I'm now switching off the screens to play with my kids. We're going to transform a refrigerator box I have in the garage into a simulated Lunar Lifter we're bringing to next weekend's book launch. We're also going to do some exploring outside.
How are you and yours celebrating? Happy Earth Day everyone.
(Thanks to Matt Wood for sharing Caine's video with me.)