Turbotville Elementary School Children With Their Wand. Photo Credit: The Daily Item / Justin Strawser
The past two years have been hard on a lot of kids. With changing rules about masks, social distancing, and even birthday parties, it has felt like the world has turned upside down.
Children’s mental health is in crisis because of pandemic stressors. Feelings of grief, fear, and uncertainty weigh heavily on them, creating everything from lashing out to depression-like symptoms. 
Parents and schools are working together in many unique ways to address these concerns. For those who attend Turbotville Elementary School, they’re having fun hiding magic wands throughout their community.
Kasey Uppling, a kindergarten teacher, and Alicia Shaffer, a reading specialist, spearheaded the campaign. Each magic wand has a QR code on it. The person who finds it will then be prompted to submit a random act of kindness they performed virtually.
Uppling says that the experience involves the community in school activities while showing kids that they can encourage others to help those in need.
Each Classroom Received One Wand to Hide in the Community
The elementary school is part of the Warrior Run School District, encompassing numerous townships and boroughs in the area.
Uppling and Shaffer say that each classroom received a magic wand for students to hide in their community. The locations could be a playground, a grocery store, or the local library.
After a person finds one, they can submit their acts of kindness through the QR code on the wand. That information gets uploaded to Google’s digital interactive whiteboard called JamBoard, allowing the students to review the data daily.
Four grades are currently taught at Turbotville Elementary. A total of 23 wands are getting divided among the classrooms to distribute throughout the entire region. Students plan to hide them in places like Dewart, Allenwood, McEwensville, and Watsontown. They’re weatherproof, allowing for them to be hidden safely in outdoor locations. 
The United Way has gotten involved with the school’s campaign. They’ve brought videos to show the students while installing bulletin boards at the elementary school to encourage students to perform their own random acts of kindness.
Uppling says that the students are going to love the experience – and that all the wands are already hidden.
The School Saw This Activity as a Way to Encourage Participation
Principal Michael Freeborn said that the pandemic forced their school to shut the community out to keep kids, teachers, and administrators safe. They see this activity as a way to open things back up.
Shaffer took four students, one from each grade, to Turbotville Community Park so that they could hide the first magic wand together. The kids said that the activity could bring joy to the community, help kids have fun, and help people up when they fall.
It’s an idea that other communities have tried with success over the years.
Magic Wand Project in Communities
Patience Salgado, who is also known as Kindness Girl, launched the Magic Wand Project in 2012 to encourage similar community interactions. She hid 200 of them, with half placed in spots where kids were likely to find them. Each one came with a note that said, “The magic wand found you!” 
Check out more about Salgado's Kindness, Magic Wand Project, here:
A Little History on Turbotville
Turbotville delivers the classic small-town USA vibe. It’s right along the Upper Susquehanna River in North-Central Pennsylvania, with about 1,000 people calling the borough home. 
The borough and township are named after Colonel Turbutt Frances. After serving the county in several wars, he was compensated for his time with a land grant that was called a “Colonel’s Reward.” It encompasses much of the area south of the town, including the township. 
In the 19th century, the community called itself “Tributville.” They presented a petition of incorporation as a borough in 1858. It was approved a year later.
In 2016, Watsontown Elementary merged with Turbotville, causing fourth graders to have classes at the Middle School in the campus’s secondary complex. The school serves approximately 450 students in grades K-3, and five teachers are available at each grade level to support students. For the 2021-22 year, 64 professional and support staff encourage kids to reach their learning goals.
The elementary school also provides a six-day cycle of related arts classes, including music, physical education, library, and STEM, as part of the daily routine.
 https://www.apa.org/monitor/2022/01/special-childrens-mental-health;  https://www.dailyitem.com/news/class-acts-students-begin-kindness-campaign-in-warrior-run/article_23eb3fb4-9b19-11ec-8083-c7cebf75da4d.html; https://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/blogger-hides-200-magic-wands-across-richmond/Content?oid=1709551  https://www.turbotvillepa.org ; https://susquehannavalley.blogspot.com/2020/11/how-turbut-township-got-its-name-and.html ;