Someone Noticed

Brad M. Griffin | May 2, 2012

Have you heard about Caines Arcade?

Caine is a nine-year-old kid in East L.A. whose dad sells auto parts. Last summer he took Caine to work with him and gave him a little space of his own and some raw materials (mostly cardboard) to pass the time. He created games out of cardboard boxes and offered people to play for a nickel. Over time Caine constructed an elaborate cardboard arcade, complete with fun pass options and an office. He basically took over the store.

But Caine didnt get a lot of business. Every weekend during the school year hed show up and open his arcade, and most of the time he had no customers. But one adult stumbled onto the arcade, bought a fun pass, and kept visiting. He couldnt believe there werent people maxing out Caines arcade. So he organized a flash-mob-style event of folks to show up and surprise Caine one weekend afternoonand play at his arcade. This short film captures the story and the big day:

Caines story is a fascinating phenomenon. Hes not the only kid around who has to hang out at a parents workplace. Hes not the only kid around with creativity and imagination. So what is it about Caine that captures our attention?

Someone noticed.

One adult paid attention to Caine and thought his story was worth telling. Of course he had his dad supporting him and giving him space to play and create (I dont want to underplay the importance of his father at all here). But when another adult also noticed Caine, talked to him, played his games, and decided to spread the word, something powerful happened. And it wasnt just that a lot of people showed up for the party; it was that Caines creative work was given new value and dignity.

Since the premier of the video and an online paypal fund in April, nearly $200,000 has been raised online to help fund Caines college education as well as funding other creative and entrepreneurial young kids. Now theres a foundation matching up to $250,000 in donations. All because one adult noticed.

Im not necessarily suggesting more kids should spend their summers working or hanging out in auto parts stores. Or that we should exploit Caine or kids like him because they have an inspiring story (this is a difficult line to walk). But I am suggesting that there are a whole lot of Caines out there waiting to be noticed.

Lets be on the lookout!

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


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