Pinwheels for Change

To recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, One in Five Minds is introducing Pinwheels for Change. The colorful and vibrant pinwheels are no ordinary pinwheels, but the stunning creations of 15 renowned San Antonio artists that were inspired to participate in the campaign. These highly visual reminders represent both the dire situation facing children with mental, emotional or behavioral disorders, as well as the change that can come with proper diagnosis and treatment. Senior Vice President at Clarity Child Guidance Center, Rebecca Helterbrand, said pinwheels were selected as symbols because, “Pinwheels evoke powerful imagery of childhood; of gentle breezes and carefree days. The desire is that these happy images provide hope for the 1 in 5 children that experience mental illness. A hope that can only be achieved by raising awareness about mental illness, ending stigma and improving access to care for all children who need it.”

While every artist began with the same blank 4-foot pinwheel template, each artist brought their own style, meaning and sources of inspiration to their pinwheel resulting in an array of striking, thoughtful and moving results. Because mental illness has touched the family of Cristina Noriega, it was important for her to be a part of Pinwheels for Change. She incorporated La Esperanza Flor (The Hope Flower) and Monarch butterflies as part of her design. A closer look reveals butterflies flying outwards from the inside of the pinwheel to represent the transformation of children with mental health illnesses who receive the love, care, and resources they need to manage or treat their illness. Noriega described, “It’s just like the kids who need help; they are in a dark place like a caterpillar. Like the caterpillar that turns into a butterfly, with hope and help, they transform for the better and have a chance at new beginnings.”

 Artist Rex Hausman had a different approach to his design, “My pinwheel is about simplicity at first. When you look at it you see five basic colors that form the five pointed pinwheels. But when your look inside, you see the true heart of the matter. You see family, friends, coffee, and time spent with others. When the pinwheel spins, you’re able to see the things that I hope the children have to look forward to in life. It’s the simplest things that are the most wonderful things.” 

With broken pieces of mirror and an array of vibrant colors that reflect off the carefully placed pieces, artist Carla Veliz describes the symbolism behind her design. “The broken mirrors and asymmetrically positioned colors represent how life can be a difficult process -- fragmented and uneven. However, even though life can shatter into pieces, when put back together they can create something beautiful and new. Like the reflection of the mirrors, we can shine our light back on others through our own brokenness.”

Like Noriega, Hausman and Veliz, every participating artist has a unique and equally compelling story about their involvement with the project as well as the development and creation of their pinwheels. The participating Pinwheels for Change artists are, in alphabetical order: David Almaguer; Steven DaLuz; Hector Garza; Larry Graeber; Albert Gonzales; Bruce Hahn; Rex Hausmann; Kiel Johnson; August Lambrecht & Will Moser Jayne Lawrence; Cristina Sosa Noriega; Kim Parker; Claire R. Stevenson; Gary Sweeny; Louis Vega Trevino; and Carla Veliz.

Individual Pinwheels for Change will be for sale in an online auction that starts on May 1st and ends on May 30. Money raised by auctioning the pinwheels will help in the assessment and treatment of children experiencing mental illness. The auction, additional artist information and photos can be found on this dedicated website:

If you’d like to see the Pinwheels for Change in person, the unique handcrafted collection will be displayed throughout the city in honor of the approximately 80,000 children experiencing mental illness in Bexar County. The following locations are proudly participating in Pinwheels for Change and featuring the artists’ creations:

Clarity Child Guidance Center, Bexar County Courthouse, RackspaceDowntown branch of the San Antonio Library, The Children’s Hospital of San AntonioUniversity HospitalValero Energy HeadquartersH-E-B South Flores MarketBarshop Jewish Community Center, Methodist Children’s HospitalZachry Headquarters

 Show your support for 1 in 5 Minds and Pinwheels for Change by posting your pictures with the various pinwheels around town on social media, with the hashtag #Pinwheels4Change.