11.09.19 ‘Be Kind! Just Try It! I Will!’ 98-Year-Old Leads Glenwood Minn. Kindness Movement

It started as a way to counteract things going wrong: A small-town movement to be kind to everyone. Now, it’s the goal of young and old in the city of Glenwood, near Alexandria. The movement is led by 98-year-old Margaret Pederson.
a group of people standing next to a person“You can’t read very much in the paper until you know that there’s a wrong thing going on in the country,” Pederson said.At Minnewaska High School, it’s a senior that’s leading the way.“I had that in my bones when I came here,” Pederson said of kindness.

Not many 98-year-olds start a movement but when it comes to the younger generations, Pederson is front and center.

“We probably haven’t done a very good job as seniors to give them what they should have gotten from us,” Pederson said. “So start right now. Don’t wait a minute longer.”

They aren’t. And who would have thought that finger-knitting would bring people together?

“It takes a pretty special person to bring 60 football players together, teach them how to finger knit and keep them all as a group and engaged all night long,” said school counselor Britt Rose.

People as young as 3 years old up to 98 have helped knit Margaret’s “Be Kind” chain.

“We made a long chain. We have about a mile long,” she said.

The ‘Be Kinders’ joined forces with Rachel’s Challenge, named after Rachel Scott who was killed in the Columbine Shooting. She too believed in simple acts of kindness.

“This idea of a chain reaction, that of if one person was kind everybody would follow,” student Annika Stensrud said.

It’s easy to say that Pederson’s chain created a chain reaction at the school. It led to kindness notes in the hallways and reports of students reaching out and helping each other. And through it all, Pederson became a cheerleader.

Her “Be Kind! Just Try It! I Will!” chant became as accepted as a good deed. So now, whenever she visits the school, students and adults alike let her know that she, too, is special.

“I shouldn’t say that no one else could have done this, but she is an inspiration,” said retired police chief Ivan Fossen.

“To work with all of our kids, from our kindergartners all the way up to our football team, and to make an impact with all of them is a pretty incredible deal,” elementary school Principal Sarah Suchy said.

Pederson credits people throughout the county for helping with the movement.

“As long as you remember that you have to keep going,” she said.

A Glenwood business even made the “Be Kind” shirts which can now be found in 35 states and 13 countries.

So if this small town can create a kindness movement, maybe your town can do it too! I tried to find an image showing the Be Kind finger knit chain but couldn’t find it. This is what a finger knit looks like! Ya’ll have a Blessed Weekend!

 

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