20 years of Guignolée du Dr Julien: great accomplishments but growing needs
Dr Julien's first community social pediatrics center opened in 1997, on the Aylwin Street, in Hochelaga.
On November 15, the famous Guignolée du Dr Julien was launched for the twentieth time, a happy annual event for the benefit of social pediatrics in the community. On the occasion of this anniversary, Dr Gilles Julien takes a lucid and sincere look at these twenty years spent serving the well-being of the most deprived children.
When Metro > asks him if he remembers his first Guignolée, Dr. Julien, all smiles, launches an “Ah!” felt good. His memory takes him back to the genesis of the movement, to the first “pre-food drive”.
Once upon a time there was a little boy with a jar of peanut butter…
“There was a little guy that we were following and who had arrived at our premises, tells us Dr. Julien. He came from a rather poor and struggling family. He was holding a glass jar…I think it was a big old jar of peanut butter that had a lot of pennies in it. It was his savings that he came to give to Dr. Julien for the poor children. He had nothing and he gave it the same by wanting to help Dr. Julien. It's very powerful. It was the momentum, the start of this great food drive.”
It goes without saying that Gilles Julien's ambition to create a legendary event to help children in vulnerable situations has been accomplished. Although he describes the launch of this 20th edition of the Guignolée as motivating and happy, the man who “always wanted to change the world” and bring children to their full potential now admits to asking questions and does not hide a certain disappointment with the overall impact of the movement.
“It is a useful work, but its scope… I would have expected it to be deeper than that. This gap between the evolution of society and the idea of transforming the world to be equal and good, I'm not sure it's going to work that much… So it's a bit of my disappointment.
But despite everything, people are mobilized every year, funds continue to increase with the food drive, neighborhoods evolve, not to mention all the children and families who have been brought out of their “slump” by Dr Julien's team.
“If community social pediatrics weren’t there, there would be plenty of children we would have lost – dead, committed suicide, in immense anger, in major behavioral disorder, in loss of complete social capital. If we weren't there, there would be at least 10,000 children who would be lost. It’s not nothing,” says Dr Julien.
It’s not nothing, but it’s still not enough, according to the doctor. To reach all the children in need, this number should be multiplied by at least three.
Dr. Julien's outreach work with local communities has made him witness to a parallel deterioration of society with deepening poverty and growing needs.
“ The means to bring a child back alive, healthy with his full potential, is very much related to the type of support he receives, the mentors they meet in his life, the people who believe in him. This is all about empowerment, attachment, and that requires a lot of energy for our stakeholders. It is not uncommon for our caregivers to get burned or come home crying because their day has been hard, but if we weren't there, it would be worse,” explains the pediatrician.
Worse, because apart from the few events that honor the well-being and development of children such as the Guignolée, Dr Julien notes that they are often forgotten in our society.
« When I don't hear about children in political elections, that they always come second, I don't understand. You don't see children anywhere now, except in murders, in child labor, in difficult conditions,” he laments.
This retrospection tainted by its tendency to be “ a little dark” is however illuminated by this “boost” which is the continuous encouragement of the donors, in particular the young people, who “have a real desire to carry the child further”, he concludes.