Though living with Asperger’s syndrome makes it difficult for Christopher Webster to interact with strangers, it hasn’t kept him from hugging hundreds of people he doesn’t know.
For the past six years, the San Antonio resident has stood on a busy downtown street corner holding a white sign whose big block letters read, “Free Hugs.” The 27-year-old offers up embraces to willing passersby to bring kindness to the world and to help him deal with his social issues, the San Antonio Express-News reports.
“I do it to make the world a better place,” Webster told the news outlet. “One hug at a time.”
While Webster is an unusual sight in his area, he is just one member of a worldwide network of people who have joined a movement encouraging strangers to hold each other for one brief moment.
The “Free Hugs Campaign,” was born when Australian Juan Mann had pretty much lost it all, but decided to bring joy to those around him, instead of mulling over his pain, according to the organization’s website.
Mann gave out his first hug while standing in an airport alone, with no one to greet him. He held up his sign and after receiving a number of confused stares a woman tapped him on the shoulder.
Her dog had just died and that day was the one-year anniversary of her only daughter’s death.
“Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven't compared,” Mann writes. “But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time.”
But for Webster, who was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he’s getting the opportunity to make people happy and to also develop his social skills, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Before joining the movement, he was withdrawn and felt anxious to talk to strangers.
“It was stepping out of my comfort zone,” he told the news outlet. “Once I started, it became natural. Sometimes its boom, boom, boom; it's mind-boggling.”
To see the smiles Webster, and huggers worldwide, bring to strangers, click through the slideshow below:
Christopher Webster hugs Laura Reyna (left) and Denise Gongora while their friend Mike Simmons takes their picture near Alamo Plaza this month, according to the <em><a href="http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Embracing-his-role-of-giving-hugs-3555762.php#photo-2902702" target="_hplink">San Antonio News-Express.</a></em> Webster offers free hugs to bring joy to the world.
Before joining the "Free Hugs Campaign," Webster felt inhibited socially because of his Asperger's. Now, the San Antonio resident <a href="http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Embracing-his-role-of-giving-hugs-3555762.php#photo-2902702" target="_hplink">says he's stepped out of his "comfort zone."</a>
The <a href="http://www.freehugscampaign.org/" target="_hplink">Free Hugs Campaign</a> was started by Australian Juan Mann who had pretty much lost it all, but still felt motivated to bring kindness to the world.
The network has spread worldwide and this group of "huggers" is working to bring a smile to passersby on the Spanish Steps in Rome.
"But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment," s<a href="http://www.freehugscampaign.org/" target="_hplink">aid Free Hugs Campaign founder Juan Mann</a>, "is worth it every time."