Global Cardboard Challenge Imagination Foundation

Project Representative
Mr. Mike McGalliard
Creation Date: 2012
Geographical Reach: Worldwide
Nature and number of beneficiaries: 222,763+ kids all over the world
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Global Cardboard Challenge Imagination Foundation

About the Project

Inspired by the short film, ‘Caine’s Arcade’, the Global Cardboard Challenge is an annual event presented by the Imagination Foundation that celebrates child creativity and the role communities can play in fostering it. In the beginning of Fall, kids of all ages are invited to build anything they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials and imagination. Then on a day of culmination in October, communities will come together to play!

Context and Issue

Creativity is one of the most critical skills for the future; recent surveys of 1,500 CEOs and 17 countries agree.

The ability to dream, take chances, and create the things we imagine… these are the skills of entrepreneurs, innovators and change makers. Children are born with these talents, but research shows that over time they begin to lose them.

What Does the Evidence Say?
Creativity is recognized as one of the most critical skills for the next generation. Its value reaches well beyond the arts to affect every discipline and numerous industries.

A popular survey conducted by IBM of 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries identifies creativity as the “most crucial factor for future success.”

Seventeen countries in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) identify “creativity and innovation” as a core competency, so valuable for the next generation it requires major restructuring of national educational programs and priorities.

Why creativity? The world is changing fast. The future requires people who can problem-solve, adapt and communicate in workplaces and environments that are increasingly complex. Creativity creates jobs, drives economic growth and provides answers to societal needs. And it also maximizes human potential. Research quoted in Newsweek says that children with high “creative self-efficacy” are better able to handle stress and are more “confident about their futures.”

Are We Facing a Crisis in Creativity?
Creativity is critically valuable, but research indicates it’s been declining significantly on a global scale over the last 20 years. This decline is evident in the challenges children are facing in school, life and work. One popular report states, “children have become less… expressive… energetic… humorous… imaginative… unconventional… less likely to see things from a different angle.” Many argue that our approach to education in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of creativity’s biggest threats.

The decline in creativity is alarming, but we recognize a solution in the power of Creative Play, and in the simple things adults from all walks of life can do to help.

Solution and Impact

We think that when children develop their natural creative talents, they develop a variety of skills and attitudes that will drive success in school, life and future work.

Power of Creative Play
Give a child a cardboard box and some inspiration and imagination comes to life. We call this Creative Play, and fueling it is one of the most important thing we can do to prepare children for the future. It develops valuable 21st century skills and prepares kids to be next-generation innovators. Our different programs are designed to help adults from all walks of life use Creative Play to develop these skills in children everywhere.

Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.
~ O. FRED DONALDSON

Learning Through Creative Play
Creative Play begins with inspiration and culminates in the sharing of an original artifact made by the child using whatever tools and materials are available. In this process, kids open up their minds to what’s possible, take chances, solve problems, collaborate and become better creative thinkers and doers. These are the critical “21st century skills” the whole world is talking about.

Want to see what Creative Play looks like? Our signature project is the Global Cardboard Challenge, which is a showcase of Creative Play that takes place all over the world. From schools and classrooms, to homes and backyards, kids use cardboard and recycled materials to build whatever they imagine. Many of our participants have uploaded their videos, and you can watch a few here.

The Process of Creative Play
Creativity, entrepreneurship and 21st century skills are easily fostered by tapping into a child’s natural creative powers. Though decades of research supports the power of Creative Play, it’s important to remember it’s a natural process for children, requiring few resources and little facilitation.

The five components of Creative Play are Inspire, Imagine, Build, Play, and Share. Though an effective Creative Play experience incorporates all five components, it doesn’t necessarily mean following a particular order and components can be repeated numerous times (it can look messy, and that’s good!).

Future Developments

Imagination Chapters Coming to a Town Near You!

Building from the inspiration of ‘Caine’s Arcade’ and the success of the Global Cardboard Challenge, we are now launching Imagination Chapters.

Imagination Chapters are community-organized learning spaces that foster creativity, entrepreneurship and critical 21st century skills in children through Creative Play. Chapters can happen anywhere – schools, homes, libraries and other community spaces – and anyone can do it. Chapters are led by volunteers from all walks of life who give a little time each week or month to help kids build the things they imagine.

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