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Plastic Ducks Spark Positivity Movement on Campus and Beyond

There’s a good chance you’ve stumbled upon a tiny plastic duck while walking around the University of Memphis campus. One may be perched on the bronze Tom the Tiger statue in front of the University Center, while another may be hiding on top of a bulletin board in McCord Hall. Thousands of these tiny ducks have been appearing throughout campus over the past few months because of Isabella “Izzy” Albert, a sophomore social work major at the University of Memphis. 

“It all started with a single duck,” Albert said. Before coming to the U of M, Albert was a graphic design student at Southwest Community College. She attended a conference there, and someone handed her a duck. That was the moment that sparked what is now known as The Tiny Duck Movement. 

She started hiding the tiny plastic ducks while she was getting her associate degree at Southwest Community College, but the idea did not catch on there. However, after transferring to the University of Memphis and starting fresh on a new campus, she started to see her idea grow in popularity. She watched as her little ducks were being acknowledged and featured frequently on the university’s official social media via Snapchat stories. Soon, other people started hiding objects such as flowers, pigs and a miniature bigfoot in various places around campus. In addition, neighboring campuses have since joined in on the movement, sparking a trend.  

“I find a lot of enjoyment in this. People are like, ‘Why do you do this?’ and it’s just so fun for me. It’s like a little game of hide and seek,” said Albert. Originally, the plan was to leave her identity out of the equation and hide the ducks in secret. However, this semester, Albert has started handing out ducks to students. “I would just be like, you have been blessed a duck, shove it in their hand, and run away.”   

The rules of the game are simple. Keep your favorite duck or re-hide the ducks for others to find. “One of the funny rules is that if you keep more than two, at 3 a.m., they will plot their revenge on you.” 

While Albert is having loads of fun with this game, she ultimately wants to bring positivity to campus and brighten someone’s day. “Memphis can be a negative place, and there is a lot of bad going on in the world, and sometimes students walk around tired, and they see this silly little duck, and it brightens their day.”  

Freshman psychology major Skylee “Lee” Gomez praised the “special” movement for providing a sprinkle of joy in a world that is too often riddled with strife. “It’s something that is so random, makes people smile, and it’s a positive way to escape from stress,” Gomez said. 

“I turned around to see where [the duck] had appeared from. Just like that, she was gone. All I caught was the back of her head,” said Haley Lumpkins, a freshman graphic design major. “I became extremely thankful to ‘Duck Girl’ and the duck.”

“Memphis is a city with a lot of bad things happening and negative things being discussed. This really brought so much positivity to a small community in a broken city,” said sophomore legal studies major Josi Culver.  

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