College freshman Chance Ammirata posing in front of the Warrior sign.
By: Alexa Szafranski (11th Grade)
This past Wednesday, former vaper Chance Ammirata spoke to the student body about his collapsed lung as a result of vaping. NBC News documented the assembly to show the importance of the issue.
Four months ago, high school graduate Ammirata had a similar life to many students at the Hebrew Academy. He recently had graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School and was enjoying summer break before starting FIU in the fall. But on July 31, Ammirata woke up with a cutting pain in his chest, and was eventually admitted into the hospital where they discovered his lung had collapsed as a result of what he believes to be his JUUL addiction.
After recovering from surgery, Ammirata realized that he needed to spread awareness on the dangers of JUULs and started the campaign #LungLove, where he motivates addicts to seek help and discard their JUULs.
“Right when this happened I was given such a big platform and for me, having a fear of public speaking, it was more about being selfless,” said Ammirata. “I was like, if I’m embarrassing myself screw it because if this helps another kid it is so worth it, even if I mess up or don’t say a word right. Because if a kid listens to my message and he quits, do you know how amazing that is? Even if it’s just that one person.”
During the assembly, Ammirata offered ideas on how to best stop an addiction to JUUL. He advised students to look to each other for help, especially if they do not feel they can turn to the school administration or their parents.
“I would say ask for help from your friends, honestly,” said Ammirata. “Just being a kid right now that’s the best thing you can do is going up to your friend and being like, ‘hey, I wanna quit, do you wanna quit with me?’ And then go on it together, because I think doing something like this with someone else, genuinely it makes it so much easier to deal with cravings and speak about what you feel.”
Many students were touched by Ammirata’s speech and inspired to truly contemplate if vaping is worth the risk.
“I thought he was really good and I thought his topic was relevant to everyone because its known as an epidemic and it was seen by everyone,” said Robert Zohar (10th). “I think he was relateable because he is in a similar position to many students here.”
Many students who have had JUUL addictions understood Ammirata’s ideas and ways to apply them.
“I went cold turkey, me and [my friend],” said former JUUL addict Abraham Hirsch (11th). “We made a bet over the summer because it’s bad for you. I had started in eighth grade and only stopped a few months ago.”
The assembly kicked off Red Ribbon Week, which will officially begin in December. General Studies Principal Dr. Leiber was responsible for bringing in Ammirata, who’s mother is a Hebrew Academy alumna.
“I always think it’s best when our students can hear stories from people that they can really connect with,” said School Psychologist Dr. London. “In this case, hearing from a teenager about his experience with vaping is hopefully something that can resonate with the students.”
The presence of NBC to document Ammirata’s visit also showed students the relevance and importance of the JUUL issue.
“By NBC news coming it shows how serious vaping is, it’s actually deadly,” said Nechama Bauer (12th). “It’s a wake up call.”