The program partners with local charities to offer parents and carers better access to the resources vital for children to get a healthy start in life.
Our cities, dynamic centers of culture and arts and economic engines of innovation and growth, can also be a challenging environment, especially hard on children.
Morgan Stanley has launched Healthy London, anchored in Poplar, a community close to our London Headquarters. Our program partners with, and brings together local charities to offer parents and carers better access to wellness, nutrition and play resources vital for children to get a healthy start in life.
To help make this happen, Morgan Stanley collaborated with renowned scientist and health expert Dr. Paul Sacher. He and his team spent six months in 2014 learning about Poplar, listening to local parents and carers, who offered a unique window into the community’s concerns, challenges and aspirations when it came to their children’s health. This research provided the insights that drove the planning and execution of Healthy London.
After six months of research and consultation with the local community, this ground-breaking program aims to enhance the wellness, nutrition and play resources of children living in Poplar.
“The Healthy London program in Poplar represents a partnership between a number of different stakeholders, each bringing their expertise and knowledge to help build a program with the intention of having a significant and long-lasting impact on the community,” says Colm Kelleher, President of Institutional Securities at Morgan Stanley. “This has been a truly collaborative effort involving a variety of stakeholders and we are looking forward to building on the results of the research to deliver a successful and sustainable program.”
A number of crucial themes emerged from the research. One was how families struggled to access key services, such as health care, due to language barriers and hard-to-find information. Residents also wanted to better understand health issues, particularly related to nutrition. Many noted the overabundance of fast food and the growing evidence of childhood obesity in the community.
Against this backdrop, children at play became especially important. Play fosters a sense of wellbeing and cohesion for families. And it’s fun and healthy for the children. However, many residents commented on the limited opportunities and facilities for children in the community to play.
Healthy London offers a holistic approach to enhancing children’s health. The program will give thousands of children and their parents access to health education and a Community Health Advisor, three different playgrounds with structured events, as well as healthy meals, nutrition programs and awareness, healthy lifestyle education, and exercise programs.
“Research has shown that poor nutrition and inactivity in childhood is associated with significant health and psychosocial issues. Disadvantaged communities present some of the hardest challenges to living healthy lives,” Dr. Sacher says. “Solutions are often provided from the top down, imposing programs and initiatives that may not fit with local needs. Fortunately, by evaluating the issues and solutions that really matter to the community and by implementing our research recommendations, the Morgan Stanley Healthy London Program is more likely to lead to positive and sustainable improvements in child health,” he says.
Healthy London joins three other cities—Chicago, Newark, and Oakland—as part of Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities. It is our first international foray, as we look to add global reach to a program steeped in local realities and necessities. As urbanization gathers momentum in both developed and emerging markets, megacities are becoming the norm. Their growth has created vast opportunities for families—and tremendous challenges. Millions of families are struggling to provide their sons and daughters with the basic building blocks of a healthy childhood. Healthy Cities is one way that we can help, as part of Morgan Stanley’s long-standing commitment to help improve the lives of children all over the world.
As part of Healthy London, Morgan Stanley has also sponsored a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show called the Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden. Designed by Chris Beardshaw, the garden will be transferred to a preselected plot in Poplar after the show, where it will become a centerpiece among the many projects in the community.