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More than 400 advocates attended the ID Action "Advocating for Change Day" on Wednesday, April 22, talking to legislators about funding, waiting lists, education, Medicaid managed care, medical cannabis, ABLE Act, staff support, home modification tax credits, accessible fuel pumps, and more. Thanks to all that took the time to come to the Capitol and take action on these and other issues important to you. 

As philosopher Lao Tzu famously said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."  Last spring, the 2014 ID Action Advocate of the Year took her first step after becoming frustrated with our state's mental health system for children. 

Tammy Nyden of Iowa City was named the 2014 Advocate of Year on Wednesday, April 22. The Advocate of the Year award is presented each year to an outstanding individual who has advocated to improve the lives of Iowans with disabilities.

After years of struggling to navigate the children’s mental health system in Iowa, Tammy Nyden decided to take action. She, along with two other parents, formed Parents Creating Change, an advocacy group focused on providing resources to families as they work towards creating changes in the children’s mental health system.

Over the last year, Tammy has built relationships with organizations and decision-makers to raise awareness of the unique mental health needs of children and youth in Iowa. The relationships she built with NAMI Iowa have led the two organizations to collaborate and create the NAMI Iowa Children’s Mental Health Committee. The committee formed a statewide coalition to redesign children's mental health and to educate and inform decision-makers. 

Tammy is currently leading this group of organizations, individuals, parents, and professionals to review previous redesign efforts, research new data and best practices, and write a proposal for a comprehensive redesign of the children's mental health system. The group intends to have a proposal available in May.

Nancy Hale, executive director of NAMI Iowa commented,  "Tammy Nyden is a remarkable individual. She is the epitome of what an advocate can be. She has been the driving force behind the NAMI Iowa Children's Mental Health Committee from the onset. She is an invaluable asset to NAMI Iowa and those for whom she advocates."

We congratulate Tammy Nyden on her nomination and selection as the 2014 ID Action Advocate of the Year. With Tammy leading the charge, we are sure to continue to see positive changes for children and families in Iowa.

To learn more about Parents Creating Change click here.   You can follow them on Facebook here.