Small Gestures Can Help Children and Adults Be Creative

November 15, 2012
Caine’s Arcade shows how small steps can make a huge difference.

Today I want to talk about the snowball effect when great things happen from seemingly small beginnings.

Let me start with Caine’s Arcade. Do you know about him? If you haven’t, I think you would like the story of a very talented, self-assured nine-year-old boy who created a wonderful arcade of cardboard and shipping tape in his father’s auto parts store in Los Angeles.

When a film-maker wanted to find a handle for his car, he noticed the arcade and immediately wanted to share Caine’s creativity with others. A video about the arcade flashed around the world. (The original video can be seen at:

Below is the follow-up film that tells the story of what has happened in the 5 months since the original film was uploaded, including the birth of the Imagination Foundation and the launch of the Global Cardboard Challenge. Now over 100 schools in 9 countries have participated in “project based learning” in which children’s imaginations take off with cardboard, tape and some felt tip pens.



The idea of how a small gesture (making a video) could change the life of a child and inspire children around the world got me thinking about the origin of ideas.

As I write in Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life, life-changing ideas don’t pop up from nowhere. With few exceptions , they are built step by step in a process called kaizen. This is a Japanese word that describes the process of gradually making something better, cheaper, stronger, larger, more clever, etc., little bit by little bit.

Notice how that is illustrated with Caine’s Arcade. Like many boys, Caine liked arcade games. His father took him to work on Saturdays and allowed him to use cardboard boxes to play with. This gave him a way to use his imagination to create games for “customers.” There really weren’t any until someone needed a door handle and took pictures to put on YouTube.

We can look at these events as something out of the ordinary. But in many ways they are just like the millions of small gestures that snowball into something really great.

“Really great” can mean a quilter with little money wins first prize for her quilt at the county fair — the first prize of anything she’s ever won — because someone gave her scraps of material from a box in someone’s attic, a box found there because a granddaughter cleaned out the attic to help her parents, who were rearranging a room in their house so that a friend who didn’t have a place to stay could stay with them for awhile.

I could extend this story a lot more, but I think you get the point.

A creative quilt of kindness can be built from small gestures of love and caring from many different hands. My question for you today is to think of someone who was able to be creative because of your kind action.

Then think of how a kind gesture of yours allowed someone to create something of value. It doesn’t have to be major, earth-shattering. But I am sure there are many things you have done that have made the world a better place, a more creative place.

Please share in comments below. I’d love to hear from you.


Did you enjoy this post?
Here are a some related posts from this blog, and articles from the Support4Change website:


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