By: Claudia Larsen

The Free Hugs Project, an organization spearheaded by Ken Nwadike Jr., gave a motivational talk to Mount students on Nov. 13 to inspire them to spread positivity and love as the project does.

Nwadike created the Free Hugs Project in 2014 when he waited at the finish line of the Boston Marathon to give out free hugs to the runners to encourage them. He recorded himself and uploaded the footage to Youtube, which went viral. Since then Nwadike has attended many different events— races, protests, riots, etc—to give out free hugs to spread love and de-escalate violence in today’s controversial times.

Nwadike himself is a motivational speaker and filmmaker, who travels as the Free Hugs Project to institutions to give talks advocating for peace and lessening the racial, social and political divide that separates people. For his work he’s been featured on major news networks worldwide, including CNN, USA Today, Good Morning Britain and BBC News.

The talk began with Nwadike explaining his past, about how he went from being homeless to running, going back to school and becoming the speaker and filmmaker he is today. He expresses this as he wants people to know that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can be successful; race, money and social status can’t prevent you from becoming who you want to be one day.

In his speech, Nwadike said that creating dialogue is key to making peace. Open lines of communication between people is the only way to reach any compromises or conclusions of issues. He feels that free hugs are a stepping stone, they open up someone’s mind and take away fear and anger so that communication can start. In many of his clips, which can be found on his website, he uses free hugs to introduce himself to people and brings groups together to talk, and also to calm down situations that could easily turn bad.

The main message of Nwadike’s talk, and the Free Hugs Project, is that peace and love are the answer. People need to come together and accept one another for the world to work, and Nwadike urges all people to spread positivity in small ways as he does with free hugs so that little by little the ways that divide us all will be broken down.