National Hug Day is real- it is an annual event created by a man in Michigan named Kevin Zaborney. Kevin was a juvenile delinquents’ treatment specialist at Boysville in Mt. Morris, Michigan. He dreamed up National Hugging day as a way for people to feel more comfortable showing affection towards others. He picked this time of the year because it fell around when most people feel lovely- in between holidays and in winter.
Hugs should always be asked for permission before given. For people with special needs, some of the best ways that they can show emotion or gratitude may not be through words but through physical gestures, such as hugs. For people with autism, communication is difficult.
I have worked at KenCrest for over 6 years and met many people who have intellectual disabilities- some are severe and some not. I have received hugs from children, and adults. For some reason, children are more prone to hug then most adults. However, once I can get someone who is comfortable with me, usually they open up to talking to me and even in some cases, asking for a hug when I leave them.
The best hug I received, however, traces back to my brother. He really is not comfortable with being touched in any form without asking first. I force my hugs on him and he gets annoyed (this part I do not recommend). Being the oldest sister to two boys, I often feel like I have to put on a shield of strength and a façade that I am strong so that they will be strong too.
This time last year, when I was going through some personal things, I was spending time with my brother talking to him about a loss we recently felt in the family. I started to break down in tears. For the first time, ever, my brother came over to me and gave me the best hug I will ever receive in my life. The hug made me forget what it was that I was going through, it made me see how far someone could come with emotion, and how much a hug can mean more than so many words ever could.
So, on this hug day, I ask you to think about someone who you know that needs a hug, someone you think may not know they are really cared for, or someone who just can use a smile. Ask them first, of course, if you can give them a hug. The benefits can really warm a heart.
About the Author:
Eileen P. Falchetta