A hug-a-thon on Wollongong Harbour is part of R U OK? Day activities in Wollongong this Thursday

Free hugs: After opening a listening booth recently Dee Milenkovic is planning a Hugathon near Levendi on R U OK? Day. Picture: Greg Ellis.
Free hugs: After opening a listening booth recently Dee Milenkovic is planning a Hugathon near Levendi on R U OK? Day. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Well known Wollongong hugger Dee Milenkovic is holding a ‘hug-a-thon’ in Wollongong this Thursday as part of R U OK? Day.

From 7.30am to 10.30am the life coach and youth worker and about 30 will be at the Wollongong Harbour precinct on the grass area next to Levendi giving free hugs to whoever wants one. Recently she has run a listening stall at Puckey’s Night Markets for anyone who would just like to have a chat.  

“I have some free hug signs and people can come down to get a hug,” she said.

“I did one two years ago but last year I didn’t. I was not not okay myself. But I am back to do it because people thought it was a wonderful thing. And it was such a delightful day for people walking along the harbour and unexpectedly finding us and genuinely having a smile and a laugh and saying to you want a hug.

Jessica Tolhurst took her own life at the age of 14.

Jessica Tolhurst took her own life at the age of 14.

“There was genuine warmth there. I really do believe these moments can take a person out of despair. And give them a little bit of hope. We can get so caught up in the troubles of our lives and our minds and this is like a bit of a pattern interrupt.”

This week’s hug-a-thon is being held in memory of the late Jessica Tolhurst who lost her life as a result of teenage bullying. Thursday would have been her birthday. Ms Milenkovic was recently involved in an event in the mall to raise awareness.  

Ms Milenkovic said if she made one person’s day a little better in just a few short moments by taking the time to share some care in the form of a hug that would be great. ”I just want to spread love and kindness and some passion and connection”..

“That is really what it is about.”

Ms Milenkovic said hugging is scientifically proven to have many benefits for physical and emotional health.

“Hugs and eye contact change the hormones within our body changes from a stress physiology to a healing and rest physiology,” she said.

“That is wheut a hug can flood the body with the feelgood hormones oxytocin, dopamine and seratonin and they can lower the heart-rate and help us think more clearly.”