Free Hug Fridays
Free Hug Fridays is I Embrace You’s interpretation of the Free Hugs Campaign started by Juan Mann in Australia.
The objective of Free Hug Fridays is to allow any and every member of the community to feel embraced, not only in the literal sense, but also respected for who they are regardless of any preconceived notions.
Free Hug Fridays are targeted at any and every member of the local society.
The concept of Free Hug Fridays is simple: offering free hugs every Friday. However, to ensure that the I Embrace You values of understanding and respect are always upheld, all huggers undergo a Hug Training session.
In a Hug Training session, each hugger is taught how to offer hugs in the most respectful way. Here are a few essential rules that are taught:
- Every single person needs to be respected. Some people like hugs, others like handshakes while some just like a contactless wave. The important element is not for the person to leave with a hug, but rather with a smile. So if the person would like a hug, we embrace them; if they would rather have a wave, we wave to them.
- Little hugging tips are also offered. Acts like taps, slaps or wild rubbings on the counterpart’s back are strongly discouraged. While full body embraces, and kind words are always encouraged.
- Any sexual innuendo or reference is completely unacceptable and not tolerated in Hug Don’t Hate. If started by a hugger, they immediately lose their hugging privileges. If started by an outsider, appropriate measures are taken including contacting law enforcement.
An example of a Free Hug Fridays operation is in Boston University where Free Hug Fridays are held every week from 12-3pm. Hugger training is offered on-the-spot and all trained huggers become part of a reward system displayed on a hugger board in I Embrace You events.