Stefan is the co-founder of Tilted Windmills and is currently completing his master’s in social work. Formerly he was a youth worker, working alongside Indigenous and street-entrenched youth in Vancouver, BC. Stefan believes that every person deserves love and support as they sort out how they want to show up in the world. Having wrestled with depression and anxiety for much of his early life, Stefan is particularly passionate about empowering those who struggle with mental health to see their own worth and to recognize that they, too, belong on this earth, and have something of value to contribute to the world.
By day Athena works as a digital marketer, but by night she unfurls her creative cap as an acrylic and digital painter. As a co-founder of Tilted Windmills, she uses her artistic skills to create the unique and powerful illustrations for the campaigns.
Athena was born with a rare genetic condition known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which causes weakened bones and muscles and a diminutive stature. As an adult, she stands 3’7″ tall, and uses a power wheelchair for speed and safety. Although she has had to deal with her fair share of medical issues, including fracturing over thirty bones to date, Athena believes that it is not her weakened bones or her wheelchair that disable her, but the attitudes of society itself.
For this reason, Athena strives to push into social and physical spaces that continue to prove challenging to people with disabilities. In this way she hopes to provide opportunities for other people with disabilities to demonstrate the strength and value of what they have to offer.
Between the two of them, Stefan and Athena have first hand experience facing down physical, mental, and social challenges. They have each in their own way learned to embrace the power of their unique gifts — and now they seek to share what they have learned with others who face barriers to living their potential fully.
Origins of the ‘Tilted Windmills’ name
Tilted Windmills is, of course, a reference to Miguel De Cervantes’ classic adventure book Don Quixote. The story follows its eponymous hero, drunk on chivalric romance books, as he travels the Spanish countryside aiming to re-awaken the chivalric code of behaviour and fight for social justice wherever he goes. During his travels with his skeptical sidekick Sancho Panza, Quixote arrives at a field, where he sees not windmills but an army of enemy giants and vows to slay them all.
Don Quixote is portrayed throughout as a delusional, comical madman, but what if we re-imagine this story from a different vantage point: What if those windmills really do represent oversized obstacles thrown in our hero’s knightly path to thwart his noble mission? What if his courageous fight against them is about fearlessly facing down the giants that try to block his way to building a more just world?
Some may say that striving for – and believing in – a just world is a fool’s errand. Maybe it is. But here at Tilted Windmills we believe it’s a fool’s errand worth pursuing – and one that could benefit from a bit of madness along the way. In our experience, we have found that the best things in life often demand a leap of imagination, Don Quixote-style. We invite you to take that leap with us.