One man’s story about perseverance, making a difference in young people’s lives

We Day inspires kids to never give up
WATCH ABOVE: WE Day ambassador Spencer West sits down with Laura Casella to talk about Montreal We Day and how his story inspires kids to never give up.

WE Day is about empowering and motivating youth to make a positive difference in the community, not only locally, but on a global level as well.

To attend the free event, participants must commit to doing one local and one global action.

According to Spencer West, an author, social activist and motivational speaker, the event is first and foremost about celebrating those efforts.

“They commit to doing the work, and we help them celebrate,” he said.

WATCH BELOW: Elliot Miville-Deschênes, a 13-year-old Quebec actor, volunteer and WE Day participant joins senior anchor Jamie Orchard to talk about WE Day activities in Montreal.

Focus Montreal: WE Day celebrations
Focus Montreal: WE Day celebrations

As WE Day ambassador — a position he’s held for eight years — part of West’s job is to inspire kids to never give up.

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To do that, West draws upon his own life story.

When he was five years old, West lost both his legs from his pelvis down, but it hasn’t stopped him.

“Despite challenges that I face, that you can physically see, I’ve gone on to do things like climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and raise money for clean water,” he said.

On that trip, back in 2012, West climbed the mountain using his hands and wheelchair, helping provide clean water to 12,500 people in East Africa.

West admitted it was a bit of a wild idea, but said his work with youth is what motivated him to push on.

“I felt guilty that I was telling students you need to get involved and fundraise and I was just talking about it, I wasn’t doing it,” he said.

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The journey wasn’t easy.

In fact, West said it was the hardest thing he’s ever done and is thankful his two best friends agreed to join him on the trek.

“They were great at providing support physically and emotionally,” he said, adding when the group reached the summit, the roles were suddenly reversed.

“They needed my help because they got altitude sickness and I didn’t.”

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Another reason West is so committed to WE Day is because of the sense of community and belonging it fosters in young people.

“The thing that I love about WE Day is that it’s a gathering of all these students across North America and the U.K. and they realize they are not alone,” he said.

“There are so many other students out there that care about the same things they do.”

Some 2,000 students from some 120 schools are expected to take part in Montreal WE Day celebrations happening at Théatre Saint-Denis Friday.

For more information, on the WE Day or to learn more about the organization, visit the WE website.