At the remarkable age of 102, Margaret Pederson stands as a leader and inspiration for kindness and unity, nurturing a movement that began five years ago and continues to resonate through Glenwood, Minnesota, and even within the local community of Louisville, where Margaret served as a speaker for the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Center at the UofL Trager Institute.

Initially sparked by a desire to counteract prevailing negativity in the country, Margaret’s vision has evolved into an initiative embraced by both the young and old within the community, touching ages 3 to 98.

Reflecting on the genesis of her movement, Margaret acknowledges wanting to counteract negative sentiment. This realization fueled her determination to make a difference, especially among younger generations whom she believes have been underserved in receiving lessons of kindness and unity from their seniors.

Surprisingly, finger knitting emerged as a means to unite people of all ages, breaking barriers and fostering a sense of togetherness. Margaret’s “Be Kind” chain, spanning an impressive mile, became a symbol of unity. The “Be Kinders” have joined forces with Rachel’s Challenge, named after Rachel Scott, who was killed in the Columbine shooting. Rachel too believed in the power of simple acts of kindness, further perpetuating the movement.

The impact of Margaret’s initiative reverberates throughout Glenwood’s Minnewaska High School, where her chain catalyzed a wave of kindness, inspiring students to leave notes of encouragement and support for each other. Her mantra, “Be Kind. Just Try It. I Will.,” has become a rallying cry, a testament to her unwavering commitment to promoting positivity and compassion.

Her influence has transcended age and occupation, earning admiration from retired police officer Ivan Fossen and the school’s principal, Sara Suchy. Their words reflect Margaret’s profound impact, spanning from kindergarteners to football teams, resonating within Glenwood’s community and beyond.

Margaret’s legacy extends far beyond Glenwood’s boundaries, reaching across states and countries, with businesses rallying to support her movement. T-shirts bearing the emblem of kindness have spread to 35 states and 13 countries, embodying Margaret’s message of unity and compassion on a global scale.

Margaret Pederson, at 102 years young, remains an enduring source of inspiration, reminding us all that the simplest acts of kindness have the power to spark change and create a more compassionate world.

In addition to her global impact, Margaret was a virtual speaker at the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic conference hosted by the UofL Trager Institute, contributing her wisdom to discussions on aging. Her insights resonated locally within the Louisville community, showcasing her dedication to kindness and its role in community wellness.

Her involvement as a speaker at the Global Kindness ValuesJam on November 9th, 2023, for a Deep Dive Conversation, virtually celebrating World Kindness Day, further emphasized her influential role in promoting kindness and unity globally.

Following this event, the World Kindness Group expressed interest in a three-pronged follow-up project aimed at continuing Margaret’s impactful work:

• A Book of Margaret’s Quotations on Kindness, edited and curated by Jenny Haase.
• A book on the topic of How to be Kind and How to Accept Kindness.
• A book/pamphlet “How to Grow Kindness at the Grassroots Level: A Toolkit for Community Organizing.”

These items are expected to roll out on Margaret’s 103rd birthday, October 1, 2024. She has also been inducted as an Honorable Member of the World Kindness Group. Her work will be distributed and championed by the World Kindness Group, furthering the movement she pioneered. We invite you to watch her speech from November 9th and be inspired and “Be Kind. Just Try it. I Will.”