Upper Iowa University Associate Professor of Exercise and Sport Studies Karla Gavin and her first year seminar students have embraced the “Be Kind” movement, which was started in Gavin’s hometown of Glenwood, Minnesota, by 97-year-old Margaret Pederson.
“With everything negative that we see every day, my students were excited to have the opportunity to exhibit something positive,” Gavin said. “Each of the students now wear ‘be kind.’ T-shirts and in doing so, they have joined Margaret and her quest for spreading kindness and compassion.”
Screen Print Plus in Glenwood created and has sold over 1,400 of the shirts across 20 states and in Australia. In addition, Gavin noted that Glenwood has hosted multiple, successful community events as part of the grassroots effort.
Among the special activities was in response to Rachel’s Challenge, a nonprofit organization created after its namesake, Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first person killed in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. After her death, many of the surviving Columbine students shared with the Scott family about the profound impact Rachel’s simple acts of kindness had on their lives. The family then soon started Rachel’s Challenge.
In respect to Rachel’s story and the organization bearing her name, Pederson started a finger-knitting chain to represent a “chain of kindness.” With the help of other community members and students, a mile-long chain was created and later paraded around the gym of a local high school.
“Like Margaret and Rachel, our students realize how one simple act of kindness can lead to better things,” Gavin said. “A person can only imagine what would happen if each of us would remember this every day.”