Sunday, 7 October 2012

The beauty of imagination

Einstein once said that "Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere". As an adult the opportunity to harness the potential of your imagination is often thwarted by the logic of reality, or the realisation that your idea is currently unobtainable. There are some days when the logic prevails, and there are also the days when the logic feels like it's holding you back. Sometimes it takes a reminder about how incredible imagination is to spark a belief in the illogical. More often than not, for me, these reminders come from children.

I moved to San Francisco about 18 months ago to pursue a Masters, and the people I miss more than anything are the kids in my life; the godchildren, the cousins and the kids of friends. Which is why I've just sat and snivelled through this short film about a boy named Caine from California. One summer he built himself an elaborate arcade out of cardboard in his Dad's shop. A filmmaker who saw it sent his story viral. The resulting coverage sparked worldwide interest from children and adults alike. Kids started sending him films of the games and toys they'd made out of cardboard. Adults started sending money to send Caine to university.

This is the video here.

Raising far more than ever anticipated, Caine's Arcade and the subsequent tidal wave of global support led to the creation of the Imagination Foundation. This charity funds and supports projects that foster creativity and entrepreneurship in children. Working in schools, in partnership with teachers, education and child development experts, they are looking to celebrate the imagination of children and provide opportunities for this to be exercised.

They are celebrating the one year anniversary of the events by launching a Global Cardboard Challenge, and have participants signed up from schools and kids clubs all over the world, including Easdale Primary School in Oban and Aveley Scout Troop in Essex. Such a simple idea is having an impact from Singapore to South Africa, from Brooklyn to Bogata.

Watching the film took me back to being a kid again. As a youth worker, my mum always had 'fun' creative activities for us to do, acting as guinea pigs for activities she was going to run at the youth centre. We built our own fishtanks from shoe boxes, made perfume from rose petals, turned washing machine packaging into a Chinese dragon, you name it, we regularly had a project and it usually always involved cutting and sticking.

As an adult, the closest I get to building something from cardboard requires practically no imagination at all. Stacking Amazon packaging in the recycling bin is about as fun as it gets. As a student, I don't even have the luxury or time to exercise my imagination through reading. In fact I'm happy to state here that the most imaginative thing I've read recently is an analysis of gendered behaviour in mayoral elections. Which categorically requires less imagination than building your own pinball machine.

This is why I think it's so important to celebrate the exercising of imagination when and where it appears. I might not spend October 6th building myself a rocket or a house or an arcade game, but I'm going to ask around my friends and find some kids that need some supervision. Seeing imagination put into action is an incredible process to watch and the more opportunities kids have to do this, the better.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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