‘Summer Days’ – Katia’s Song

As we watched our daughter, Katia, perform her song, ‘Summer Days’ on ABC Radio on Monday the 24th of May, we were in awe, holding back the tears and amazed at how far she has come. Who would have thought while holding a floppy little baby with a nasal gastric tube and no defined diagnosis 14 years ago, that we’d be here now, watching her perform her own song on live radio?

At school, for a long time, Katia has been involved in singing at assembly and end of year mass. Around five years ago Katia was given an opportunity to dress as an angel for the nativity play and surprised us when she sang solo for the first time. To us, she sounded like an angel. With tears in my eyes, I was pleasantly surprised at how the teachers took the time to work with Katia in preparation for her solo performance and everyone managed to keep it a secret from us.

We have always supported Katia’s interest in music and singing and after seeing her performance 5 years ago we enrolled her into a singing program, Tutti Arts where she attended on a Saturday mornings for three years. The first solo song she performed in concert was ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. She received compliments from so many in the audience that day and was so proud of herself.

At the Tutti Christmas concert, she jumped out of her seat to one of her favourite carols and told the Coordinator that she wanted to sing it. They were very supportive and “Sure, why not”, was their attitude. So Katia sang front and centre and the older children sang in the background as if they were her backing band.

Two years ago, Katia was lucky enough to begin lessons with her singing teacher, Kim Spargo. There is an annual concert where all of Kim’s students are given the opportunity to perform. On this particular day of the concert, the weather was unusually hot and we were concerned about how Katia would cope. As with many other challenges in her life, Katia rose to the challenge and surprised us all with how well she handled the hot weather. She wore her pink party dress and sang ‘Mamma Mia’ with gusto and was eager to join in the finale where all the kids sang together.

Over the last six months, Katia has enjoyed working with Jessica Archibald, Music Therapist. Through these sessions, Katia was introduced and encouraged to begin songwriting. It was from here that “Summer Days” was born. A song written and performed by Katia herself. What an achievement and one that completely blew us away. Popular feedback from those in our local community that heard Katia perform her song was that she should enter into the local Rotary Club youth music contest.

The organiser of the Rotary Club Youth music contest was impressed with Katia and her entry that he invited her to ABC studios to perform with two other contestants to promote the event. As Katia’s parents, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to not only support Katia whilst raising awareness and promoting Prader-Willi Syndrome. We presented the Announcer, Peter Goers,  with a ‘go Orange’ pen, bangle & ribbon. Peter was most impressed with Katia and asked her to sign his visitor book.

It has been a lot of hard work, persistence, perseverance and patience for us all in getting Katia to where she is today, but it has been worth every minute. We are very proud of our beautiful daughter and we hope that she continues to reach for the stars because we will always support her dreams.

This article was written by Emilia Fimiani and shared with her permission.

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Article By Renee Zilm

Renee excels in enhancing business operations by refining processes, ensuring organisations function with greater efficiency, effectiveness, and strategic insight. Beyond her professional expertise, Renee is a mother to four children. Her life took a poignant turn when her second youngest child was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome shortly after birth. Embracing this challenge with grace, Renee now dedicates her time to caring for her son while also committing herself wholeheartedly to her role as President of the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association of Victoria.

Ever since her son Harvey’s diagnosis, Renee has been a force of change, initiating and steering innovative programs and services designed to empower individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome. Renee is deeply invested in the tenets of social justice and inclusion, driven by the conviction that individuals with disabilities deserve equitable access to support and resources necessary for a full and inclusive life. Her profound dedication to her work and her family reflects an overarching mission to ensure that every individual with disabilities can thrive in a supportive and inclusive society.