Free Hugs Campaign

April 14, 2009
Filed under: Inspiration — Tags: , — jonimar @ 9:39 am

An Australian man known by the pseudonym “Juan Mann” (pronounced one man) carried a Free Hugs sign in a Sydney mall on June 30th 2004 in an effort to give and receive a free hug from a stranger because he needed one himself  that day.

Mann said, “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.”

Believing that one person can make a difference to another through a simple and random act of kindness, Mann continued to offer free hugs to make others feel better.  As others joined in, the popularity of Free Hugs grew to the point that public authorities concerned about public liability, tried to stop the campaign in October 2004.  Mann submitted a 10,000 name petition and was permitted to continue.

The campaign received international attention in 2006 when a video was uploaded to YouTube.  Mann appeared on Oprah and has generated a following of 27 million viewers.  In 2008, the Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper reported Free Hugs as one of the top 20 brands in Australia.

This simple gesture based on Mann’s own personal need inspired Generation Ys to spread a movement symbolizing kindness, connection and joy to over 80 countries.


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