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Catherine of Croydon

Nature, exercise, activity & wellbeing

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Edited by Catherine Pestano, Tuesday, 9 Nov 2021, 13:33

This blog touches on my knee and back injury, depression and menopause. In a positive way!

As a large, relatively lazy person, this area has been of increasing interest to me as I move through mid life and seek to avoid some of the worst difficulties I see potentially lying ahead. 

Post-operative knee rehabilitation led to me attending a local exercise referral type scheme to encourage reluctant exercisers. I became their poster girl for a while! I found the Nordic walking provision very helpful as it reduces pressure on the back neck and knee joints by 30%. My industrial injury from age 22 finally released its hold on my mobility and my back pain ceased to be an issue. Almost unbelievable for me.  It became a passion and I trained as a L2 Fitness instructor (Nordic Walking). I was able to help establish a group for older people who had difficulty joining in with a faster longer class. I was able to fundraise for the training and continuation of the service through the local Age UK (Sutton). I also helped establish the Crystal Palace branch of Silverfit for the over 45sand delivered Nordic walking there and later in the Addiscombe park branch also. This charity offers exercise as a way to reduce adult isolation. 

Alongside this, and interested in both physical and mental wellbeing,  I started using a trampoline for the first time and found it a very good type of exercise for someone who is large and unfit. It was joyful and also seemed to have a mentally strengthening aspect, almost a paradoxical opportunity for challenging thinking. I experienced the unexpected the growth of courage alongside a love of this form of exercise. I am slowly working through the Winstrada grades keeping it as as safe as possible but also pushing myself a bit.  I travel 1.5 hours each way to my sessions, early in the morning and on public transport. I trained as an instructor and worked with many disabled children and adults. I then went on to manage a service for a year+, for profoundly disabled adults, for whom there is very little joyful or fun provision in the community post 18 and post schooling.

Now that I am in the menopause transition I am interested in the many ways that diverse forms of outdoor and indoor activity can support people with the multiple mental, emotional and physical challenges of this transition. Very precious to me is my circle dance group locally, which features some traditional and many contemporary choreographies of an easy and accessible type. I find that the easier they are, the more helpful, calming and uplifting I find these. I am exploring circle dance, pilates, Chi Kung, yoga and, during the pandemic, online provision of dance and yoga. I am interested in collaborating with others interested in this area and have a small research project that is open to all. Here is a Walking on Air podcast that I did on Nordic walking for menopause:  https://www.buzzsprout.com/1726065/9134932 

I can be contacted at Catherine.pestano [at] open.ac.uk

I am in the process of writing up my activities above in relation to exercise during menopause and in later life, trampolining, Nordic walking work with Silverfit and Age UK, and circle dance.

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Catherine of Croydon

Carers

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Edited by Catherine Pestano, Friday, 5 Nov 2021, 17:46

As a carer I have brought my lived experience to a range of initiatives including the establishing of a carers choir and participatory music, training carers in Nordic walking and helping them establish an ongoing service. I am keen to train professionals on the inclusion of carers perspectives in their practice.

As an independently appointed pre-litigation final complaints stage paid investigator role, I have been able to achieve a satisfactory resolution in disputes with a local authority where carers had been unhappy with services received.

I am currently exploring further diversity related practice relating to carers including participatory music provision, compassionate mindfulness, nature practices. Post caring re-establishing of the self interests me, for example after the cared-for person’s recovery, or bereavement. I am an active member of the Open Thanatology group at the Open University.

Pestano, C. (2021 in press). Caring for the Carers. In K. S. Hendricks & J. Boyce-Tillman (Eds.), Music and Spirituality Series: Vol. 7. Living Song: Singing, Spirituality, and Wellbeing. Oxford, England: Peter Lang.

I can be contacted at Catherine.pestano [at] open.ac.uk


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Catherine of Croydon

Community & participatory music

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Edited by Catherine Pestano, Sunday, 8 Jan 2023, 10:04

I currently offer a range of community arts opportunities, which are available through grant funding or your commissioning. 

These include community harmony singing, a Creative Café model and Arts in the Park events, including eco-activism and seasonal community celebration. These are offered through my organisation Creative Croydon, comprising musical and other creative participatory arts & music activity. Community groups and corporate groups commission this work and sometimes it is supported with grants and donations. 

My work includes facilitating the creation of others, and  and composing/performing small community songlets for wellbeing and activism. Many of my activities have a focus on community wellbeing and support with health conditions and other life challenges. This includes chant based singing and sounding for health and relaxation. Community Choirs, care home and hospital based singing have been significant areas of my work pre-covid. The metaphors around freeing the voice are very powerful.

I have been actively working in the field of community music as a practitioner and community arts manager since 1997, winning several awards. My many clients include Sutton and Croydon, Kingston and Lewisham Adult Ed services, Music Leader London and nationally, Sound Connections, Sing Up!, Trinity KS2 CPD programme, LEAN, TrinityLaban, University of Greenwich, University of Winchester, Croydon Cultural Services, Croydon Carers Centre, Croydon Youth Service, Pupil referral units, St Georges Tooting, Croydon University Hospital, Purley Cancer Centre and many others, including corporate, such as Credit Suisse and Mondial Assurance.  

This year sees the offer of both community singing and collaborative creative music making offered at affordable rates through local and online adult education providers. I enjoy supporting the training in Song Therapy which can be found here: https://www.songtherapy.net/

I am an active Honorary Fellow member of the OU Health and Arts research group, helping organise our inaugural face to face event July 2022. I have contributed on music related matters to OU Leadership conference Lifting the lid 2021, Death & Dying conference 2022 and two eco-activism & arts OU conferences. My blog for Open Learn, Refugee week 2021, can be found here, drawing on my community arts work with LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers. https://www.open.edu/openlearn/society-politics-law/reflections-on-resilience-lgbtq-asylum-seekers?in_menu=1414478

A passion is diversity and anti -oppressive practice in community arts. I organised the first international cross-community arts colloquium in 2010 and the first Music Teachmeet in partnership with Vital.ac.uk and the Open University in 2012. A more recent Music Teachmeet was run in partnership with KTV partners & Music Mark UK in 2021. I have been Chair (6 year) of the national organisations Sound Sense and Culture& (6 year) and am currently on the board of Women in Music UK and a longstanding member of the National network for Women Chairs.

RESOURCES

My podcast about wellbeing and singing, on Deborah Walkers show, shared with kind permission: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3m9mD4wY60

Some of my publications and resources in the community music sector are listed below.

Pestano, C. and Blackburn, L. (2021) Waiting to exhale, together. In Borgstrom, E. & Mallon, S. (Eds) Covid & Experiences of Loss. Milton Keynes, England: The Open University 

Pestano, C. (2021) ‘Reflections on resilience for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers’ Open Learn, The Open University: Milton Keynes

Pestano, C. (2021). Caring for the Carers. In K. S. Hendricks & J. Boyce-Tillman (Eds.), Music and Spirituality Series: Vol. 7. Living Song: Singing, Spirituality, and Wellbeing. Oxford, England: Peter Lang.

Pestano, C. (2021). Improvisation. In K. S. Hendricks & J. Boyce-Tillman (Eds.), Music and Spirituality Series: Vol. 7. Living Song: Singing, Spirituality, and Wellbeing. Oxford, England: Peter Lang.

Pestano, C. (2021). The Change . In K. S. Hendricks & J. Boyce-Tillman (Eds.), Music and Spirituality Series: Vol. 7. Living Song: Singing, Spirituality, and Wellbeing. Oxford, England: Peter Lang.

Pestano, C. (2018) “Queering the space - Community music work with LGBT groups”. In K. S. Hendricks & J. Boyce-Tillman (Eds.), Music and Spirituality Series: Vol. 6. Queering freedom: Music, identity, and spirituality. Oxford, England: Peter Lang

Pestano, C., (2016) “Creative group work using community music with LGBTQ youth: Reflections on resilience” in PSYPAG Quarterly, Issue 101 December 2016, pp 45-49, The British Psychological Society, London, UK

Pestano, C. (2013), “Music Work with LGBT youth”  in Harrison, C. and Mullen, P. (2013),  Reaching out: Music with ‘hard to reach’ children and young people, MUSIC Mark, London, UK

Rathbone, M. and Pestano, C. (2013), “Border Crossings”, in Music Mark Journal,   Volume 1 (pp 72-76), Music Mark Publishers, UK

Pestano, C. (2012) “Music and Health” in Music Education UK Edition 2, Feb 2012, pp 48-51, London: Music Education UK

Pestano, C. (2008), “Music Project in Serbia”, in NAME Journal of National Association of Music Educators, Spring 2008, NAME publications, UK

Pestano, C. and Lissimore, T. (2007), “Get your Act together”, in: Coll, H. & Finney, J (Eds.) Ways into music: Making every child's music matter. Matlock: National Association of Music Educators, UK

Pestano, C. (2003), “Voice of the People”, in Grassroots Magazine, UK

Woodward, S. and Pestano, C. (2010), “Marginalized communities: Reaching those falling outside socially accepted norms” in Veblen, K.K. & Elliott, D.J. (Eds.). (2013).  Community music today.  Landham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, USA

I can be contacted at Catherine.pestano [at] open.ac.uk

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