There’s much to be said about the power of a hug. Did you know hugging boosts your oxytocin levels and creates an overall feeling of well-being? Hugs can have an incredible ripple effect, especially when the simple act of hugging can improve the quality of life for someone living on the other side of the city – or even someone on the other side of the world.
On October 27th, #Hugs4Hope is hosting Newmarket’s first hug-a-thon, which aims to break the world record of 2,450 hugs in just 60 minutes. All fundraising proceeds will benefit youth in Newmarket and abroad, by supporting the efforts of two noble and grassroots charities: YouthSpeak and Global Strides.
“The focus is the experiential activation, but the charities are indirect beneficiaries of that activation,” explains Nancy Bodi, Board Member of Global Strides and member of the 8-person hugging team with #Hugs4Hope. “To fundraise, you have to be different. You have to convince people to support your charity when there are so many other worthy causes to support. So we decided to make this about our youth.”
Global Strides is an international charity striving towards a better global future by investing in youth. The organization works domestically to raise funds and support the growth and sustainability of an orphanage in Kianyaga, Kenya. Many of the children sent to this orphanage will remain there until adulthood, never knowing a real home or a real family. Global Strides provides these children with a non-institutional, safe, secure and nurturing environment where they can grow up feeling like part of a loving family.
“There is no government support for this orphanage,” says Bodi. “The only funds they get are the funds we raise locally in York Region.”
YouthSpeak is doing equally important work on a local level. The charity is on a mission to increase the resiliency of youth who are facing challenges by empowering them to share their personal stories in a way that promotes mental health and well-being.
“These are people who put their blood, sweat and equity into really reputable causes,” Bodi says of the volunteers supporting both Global Strides and YouthSpeak. “They’re not well-known charities, but they make a huge impact in the lives of others.”
Since 2003, YouthSpeak has reached 23,000 youth, hosted over 2,000 speaking events and given over 1,500 hugs – the latter being a number that is about to get a lot higher.
In order to break the Guinness World Record of 2,450 hugs, the #Hugs4Hope team of eight huggers—including former Newmarket mayor Tony Van Bynen, as well as founder of the Newmarket farmer’s market, Jackie Playter—must hug at least 400 people. “There are strict rules – you can’t hug the same person twice,” notes Bodi. “There are eight official huggers, but we need huggers to hug the huggers. We need people in community to help us break the record.”
Similarly to many other fundraising approaches, the event raises funds through team sponsorships. “We don’t have any money – we don’t have a budget,” Bodi says. “It’s just the community coming together and making this happen.”
Bodi’s passion for the cause continues to inspire participants from all around the city. “When you give to others, it just makes for a more fulfilling, balanced life,” she says. “It’s not all about you. It’s about giving; it’s about being part of something greater than yourself.”
To support the Hug-A-Thon, sponsor a team at www.hugs4hope.ca and join the team of huggers on Newmarket’s Main Street on Sunday, October 27th from 1pm to 4pm.