Written By: Sarah Chase
The vaping epidemic has taken victim of many teens in the United States. The effects of this dangerous habit include contracting dangerous lung diseases, worsening memory, can cause cancer and even death, but adults are no longer the only ones fighting to end vaping. Twins Renee and Rhea Mendonca have experienced the horrors of vaping first hand and they are more than determined to motivate teens to quit.
The Mendonca twins were not able to afford a lung transplant for their grandfather who suffered from and lost his life to Pulmonary Fibrosis, a disease caused by smoking. They were devastated as they watched his life end. Their grandfather had been a chain smoker since the age of 14 and when he passed they vowed to save young lives from getting into the deadly habit.
“We did all of our campaigns together because it hit us directly. After the loss of our grandfather, we were devastated, so we turned our sadness into this campaign,” Rhea Mendonca said.
Not only did they lose their grandfather, but while they were at a friends 16th birthday party, she fell unconscious right in front of them. A medical investigation found that her lungs collapsed due to Juuling for a year.
“She confessed that she was not aware that Juul had nicotine in it,” Renee Mendonca said. “She was attracted to Juul because of the tasty flavors such as cotton candy, gummy bears and creme. She was enticed to try it after watching the advertisement ‘SAVE ROOM FOR TASTY TREATS AND REWARDS.’”
The Mendonca’s interviewed 1,000 vaping addicts and found that 90 percent of students use Juul as a first tobacco product because of the appealing flavors. Given the gift of musical talent, they have been able to save the lives of 200,000 vaping addicts in 100 countries. One way they accomplished this was by starting 100,000 anti-vaping campaigns in schools, colleges and youth conferences. They bring in ex-vaping addicts to tell their stories and discuss how vaping ruined their lives, but Wings Of Hope saved them and gave them hope.
“We composed a song, ‘Break Free From Addictions’, and sung before a school assembly,” Rhea Mendonca said. “We showed the school community videos of the dangers of vaping and gave an inspiring speech which moved the youth to tears. Due to our anti-vaping campaigns in schools, 50 percent of addicts pledged to give up vaping.”
They also take their activism online by conducting social media campaigns. They make youtube videos, podcasts and started an instagram page called Wings Of Hope to educate the youth about vaping. This made them realize that kids can impact the world just as much as adults.
“Social media has the power to transform the lives of youth positively,”Renee Mendonca said. “Even one youth voice has the power to bring about a whirlwind of change in society. If you believe that there is injustice, stand up against it.”
The Menconda’s have had heart break because of vaping, but they also have made triumph. The accomplishments they have had and loss they have experienced keep them motivated to end the vaping trend.
“These incidents in our lives made us passionate about saving the youth addicted to vaping,” Renee Mendonca said.