London is one of the most culturally and economically vibrant cities in the world with a rich historical narrative, and holds endless potential for contextualizing modern development issues in an international setting. The service-learning experience in London is a unique opportunity to live and work with a vibrant and diverse community in East London. The program is in partnership with the University of East London. It has been developed by various stakeholders in the Borough of Newham in East London, where the 2012 Olympics were held, as an approach to bring awareness and activism around health issues and community development.
The Borough of Newham faces many health challenges. Residents are more likely to suffer from Diabetes, Heart Disease or Stroke, and from smoking related diseases. It is one of the worst areas in terms of child obesity – with 27.4% of children aged 11 assessed as obese – and life expectancy is much worse in Newham than the England average for both men and women, as are levels of physical activity. Life expectancy is low at 50 years. Clearly the promise of a healthy and fit population in Newham and neighboring Boroughs as part of the Olympic legacy will not be delivered unless this issue is addressed.