Hugs All Around

The Community Wellness Club began as a project proposal for my rhetoric class (the final presentation was to make a proposal of any sort) in October of my first year. In my second month at Quest I felt a bit of disjunction in the community. The community at Quest was hands-down the greatest I’d ever been a part of, but it was not perfect. The incoming class was so large and the student population so small, that we did not integrate as well as I know many wanted to. It also was easy to see people and ask how they were doing, but not wait for an answer longer than a word. (One of the first things you notice upon coming to Quest is that we do not say “hello” to each other, rather it is a “hello, how are you?” typically followed be a “good,” “pretty good,” “okay,” or “stressed.”) I wanted to see what I could do to make the community even better.

Last year the club held meetings open to all students that ended up being community-building discussions. There was never more than about 5 people at these meetings and while they were super beneficial to those who attended, the community at large was not impacted by this club.

This year we’ve taken a more proactive approach and expanded the club to have a Leadership Committee of which there are about 11 members. We have been meeting every Wednesday to plan events for the current and upcoming month. It has been an incredible success and the commitment and excitement of the leadership committee (and members at large) has been inspiring.

Our first event took place at the end of last block.

End of blocks are a stressful occurrence. So we brainstormed ways to help ease the minds and promote the mental health of the student body. We wanted to get our name out there, inform students we are here for them, and our that goal is to promote their (and our) wellbeing.

We chose to spread this message through hugs. We purchased 28 plain white t-shirts and decorated them with our individual “free hugs, spread the love” messages. Then we set the scene.

We gathered as a group on this Tuesday (the day before the last day of block) in the atrium and then, with our shirts covered with sweaters (even though it was a hot day), we entered the cafeteria inconspicuously.

Not everything went as planned. We were planning on having the “free hugs” youtube video playing on the big screen once we began so people would know what was happening to them. We also wanted to play the song “I feel so close to you right now.” Neither of these worked out, because of our technologically-challenged team under pressure and short-notice.

The cafeteria was also quite empty for lunch, because it was a beautiful day outside so not surprisingly the majority of the student population was outside getting some vitamin D.

Instead we started our skit without it. I stood in the middle of the cafeteria looking unhappy and stressed. My friend yelled at me asking if I could use a hug. I could. (Later, people told me they were so confused what was happening at the beginning and why this guy was yelling at me, but saying nice things).

Then we planned for each member of the wellness club to come one-by-one to join in on this (yelling something along the lines of, “I love hugs,”) forming a giant group hug. We then would disperse and give hugs to anyone who wanted.

The skit went according to plan for the most part, however, instead of the group hug being composed of wellness club members, people in the caf. (who had no idea what was going on) joined in! It was unbelievable. It became so chaotic that it was difficult to disperse from the group hug once it started forming.

We did not know how successful this project would be and we even planted seeds in the members not involved in the skit to come hug us. I honestly never would have expected such an incredible occurrence.

DSC_0371 DSC_0372 DSC_0373 DSC_0374 DSC_0376 DSC_0377 DSC_0378 DSC_0379 DSC_0380 DSC_0381 DSC_0385 DSC_0386 DSC_0387 DSC_0388 DSC_0389 DSC_0390 DSC_0391 DSC_0392 DSC_0393 DSC_0394 DSC_0395 DSC_0396 DSC_0397 DSC_0398 DSC_0400 DSC_0401 DSC_0402 DSC_0403 DSC_0404 DSC_0406 DSC_0408 DSC_0412 DSC_0413 DSC_0414 DSC_0416 DSC_0417

Many of us wore our shirts for the rest of the day and received plenty of hugs from anyone we met.

This is only the beginning for the Community Wellness Club. I can’t wait to keep you updated on what we have planned next.

Leave a Reply