Sunday, December 03, 2006

Free Hugs campaign

Following on from the "let me show you my favourite YouTube video" thing I mentioned in my last post - here's the one that moved me the most. In fact I had to try hard not to cry while I was watching it at Kurt and Briget's tonight. I just watched it again now I'm home, and it did make me cry. It's lovely, and heartwarming, and hopeful, and just plain makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. This particular version on YouTube's now been watched over 7 million times. Wow!

This is what peaceonearth123 (who posted the original video) says on YouTube:

Sometimes, a hug is all what we need. Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, a man whose sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.

In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, the effects of the Free Hugs campaign became phenomenal.

As this symbol of human hope spread across the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED. What we then witness is the true spirit of humanity come together in what can only be described as awe inspiring.

In the Spirit of the free hugs campaign, PASS THIS TO A FRIEND and HUG A STRANGER! After all, If you can reach just one person...

Music by Sick Puppies. (Visit or for the music)

PS. The response to this video has been nothing short of overwhelming and touching. Hugs to every single one of you who messaged. There has been thousands of emails from all over the world by people seeking to participate in the Free Hugs campaign and asking for permission. You do not need permission. This is the peoples movement, this is *your* movement. With nothing but your bare hands you can make THE difference.

Imagine all the people.

Press/media contact:

But wait, there's more...

Here's Juann's story:

How it all started:

I'd been living in London when my world turned upside down and I'd had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words "Free Hugs" on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.

Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven't compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time.

Why Did it get banned?

Public liability fear and red tape. But its all okay now! Make sure to check your local laws before embarking on your Hugathon!

Special Thanks

I would just like to thank Sickpuppies for their incredible song "All the Same" which the free hugs campaign video would have never been the same without.

Free Hugs Campaign continued....

Free Hugs Campaign on TEN News Australia

Lovely, lovely, lovely! And a great song, too!

Juan's just been on Good Morning America and Oprah, and on Sunday December 3rd, 2006 from 1pm he'll be giving away Free Hugs in Times Square NYC. Bring Your FREE HUGS signs and help Hug New York!

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