A Cardboard Challenge will be hosted by teacher and PALS sponsor Kenneth Martin in the small gym on Oct 31 to fundraise for the Imagination Foundation and PALS. Admission is free for anyone who wishes to participate, but donations are encouraged.
“The biggest thing we need is just kids to come play,” Martin said. “I didn’t advertise that much last year because I thought we didn’t have enough cardboard and that we’d have a bunch of people show up but not enough materials, but the response last year was just overwhelming with how much stuff we got.”
Before the challenge, students and teachers are invited to donate cardboard, masking tape, and other possible building materials.
“This year, I’m expecting definitely way more cardboard; hopefully a lot more kids,” senior Emma Pirnar said. “We’re going to try different things, to make something new. I just hope a lot more people come and see how awesome it is and come make a lemonade stand or a car out of cardboard.”
Anyone who wishes to attend may do so, regardless of age or location.
“People just show up,” Martin said. “Last year there were kids from Pumpkin Fest at City Lake that just came across the street. Even kids from Royse City and Terrell came.”
Last year, PALS decided to host a cardboard challenge after Martin showed them the video “Caine’s Arcade,” a video about a boy named Caine who created his own arcade entirely out of cardboard, which inspired him to do something similar.
“I decided to do it because I feel that kids just don’t have the creative outlet in schools to just build something and create something out of whatever they want,” Martin said. “We’re so concerned with testing, and they don’t have a chance to really get out and create whatever they want.”
In addition to teaching those participating to be creative, Martin said the challenge will contribute to a good cause. Martin said he hopes some funds raised by donations will go towards PALS, but they will primarily go to the Imagination Foundation, an organization which promotes teaching creativity and problem-solving to kids and was inspired by Caine’s story.
“Caine’s story did inspire me because it showed you that you can do anything and you can make anything,” Pirnar said. “Even if you don’t have everything you think you need, you can just work with what you have.”
Caine did work with what he had. He was a ten-year-old boy whose dad worked at a junkyard while he played. He built an arcade and hoped for customers, but none came until filmmaker Nirvan Mullick discovered it while searching for a door handle. Mullick was inspired by Caine’s creativity, so he used social media to plan a flash-mob at the makeshift arcade and filmed a documentary of the process. He also started an online donation box to raise money for Caine’s college fund, and donations exceeded the $25,000 goal.
“Caine’s story inspired me because he just built that whole arcade even though people made fun of him, he still kept doing what he loved to do,” Martin said. “Plus, that whole story about that flash-mob coming together and people coming to play his games when he thought nobody really cared about him. And it’s kind of cheesy but I feel like that’s our job as teachers, to take kids that maybe feel like no adult ever notices them or thinks they have value and showing them ‘yes, you do have value even if you get made fun of.’”
Pirnar said that her advice to anyone attending this year’s cardboard challenge is to show the kids attending that they have value, because they will appreciate it.
“Last year, myself and some of the seniors made a maze which the little kids would crawl through which was pretty fun,” Pirnar said. “It was really hard to make, and after that we made a huge castle called the Castle of Awesomeness. The kids loved it. It was pretty cool.”
Martin said that building things may be hard because part of building something is not getting it right the first time, and that is a big lesson kids should take from the Cardboard Challenge.
“My whole philosophy of teaching is that [the problem is] we don’t allow kids to fail gracefully,” Martin said. “We don’t allow kids to fail and not blow up at them. Encouraging that you don’t have to be perfect to be successful and learning to tolerate disappointment and having to learn from your mistakes I think is something we don’t teach enough in school, which is why I’m so big on being okay with failure so long as you put in the effort and learn from your failure.”