Iowans with Disabilities in Action

2015 Iowa Advocacy Connection, Issue 2

Issue 8, May 20, 2015

Articles in This Issue:


Tammy Nyden Named 2014 ID Action Advocate of the Year

Tammy Nyden - 2014 Advocate of the Year

ID Action was proud to name Tammy Nyden, Iowa City, IA, as the 2014 Advocate of Year. 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 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 compile previous efforts, research new data and best practices, and write a proposal for a comprehensive redesign. The group intends to have a proposal available in May.

Nancy Hale, executive director of NAMI Iowa, states: "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. 

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Advocating for Change Day a Success

On April 22, over 300 Iowans participated in advocacy training and met with their legislators to discuss important issues that impact their everyday lives. The stories shared not only affected legislators but also motivated and inspired other advocates to let their voice be heard. Representative Linda Upmeyer at Advocating for Change Day

Stacy Heinselman, Mason City, has attended several Advocating for Change Day events. Stacy said she brings groups to this event because, “People need to understand that if they want to be heard then they have to initiate it.” Advocates learned during the training session that if you don’t speak up, legislators won’t know that there is a problem or issue that needs to be addressed.

Tammy Nyden, Iowa City, said that one thing that concerns her is when she hears legislators say, “We haven’t been hearing about that issue, so we weren’t sure people were really worried about it. You bringing it up is good because we know someone cares about it.”  Tammy said that is concerning because, “often they’re [Iowans with disabilities] not the first ones who can get in here all the time. It’s hard to get here.” Often, it is more difficult for those like Kyle Stumpf and his sister Kara, who don’t live in central Iowa, to make it to the Capitol. Kyle and Kara traveled to Advocating for Change Day from Dubuque. Kara said that since she participated in the training, she a has better understanding of the process of contacting her legislators. She said, “It’s nice to know at any given time we can call them and they’re able to contact us.” Legislators are typically in Des Moines during the week January-April (sometimes into May). This gives advocates many opportunities to meet with their legislators while in their home district throughout the year. Tammy wants advocates to understand the Capitol is only one point of contact with their legislators. She adds, “People can write letters and emails and make phone calls, and they [legislators] will make every effort to meet with you.”

You can hear more from these advocates in their video.

Advocates at Advocating for Change Day

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Join us at the 2015 ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference in October!

ID Action is excited to continue the success of our inaugural conference with a second Make Your Mark! Conference October 7-9, 2015 at the Coralville Marriott.

Peter Leidy

The Make Your Mark! Conference invites Iowans with disabilities to learn and grow as advocates. Our goal is for attendees to leave the conference with the information and tools they need to be engaged and active as advocates in their communities and state.

This year we will be bringing back Peter Leidy! Peter will be with us throughout the conference, entertaining attendees with his engaging stories and hilarious songs. You won’t want to miss this!

Peter has been learning from people with disabilities since 1983. He is a consultant, facilitator, listener, learner, improviser, and speaker who focuses on personalized supports and community membership for people with disabilities.

Learn more about Peter on his website or watch his entertaining videos on his YouTube channel!

Registration Information: Registration for the conference will open on July 1 on the ID Action website. 

If you are interested in exhibiting, click here for more information.

We look forward to seeing you in October!

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Exhibit at the 2015 Make Your Mark! Conference

Make Your MarkID Action invites you to be an exhibitor and/ or sponsor of the 2015 ID Action Make Your Mark! Conference on October 7-9. Sponsorship opportunities will be available throughout the conference and exhibits will be open on Thursday, October 8. Conference attendees will be given the opportunity to visit exhibit booths throughout the day on Thursday. Extended breaks have been scheduled to allow ample time for attendees to visit with you.

To reserve an exhibit space or sponsorship, please compete the registration form.

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Do you want to make an Impact? Consider joining the DD Council.

DD Council logo

The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council) is looking for individuals to join the council. Do you the following describe you?

Are you:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • A person with a developmental disability or a family member of a person with a developmental disability
  • Interested in disability-related issues and comfortable forming opinions and sharing your viewpoint
  • An advocate with a desire to use personal experience to work for needed change
  • Interested in organizing and supporting others to identify needs an advocate for change

If you answered yes, then we want you to think about applying to join the council. You can find out more information and download an application on the DD Council website iddcouncil.idaction.org/about/application/. Appointments to the Council are made by the Governor’s office each June.  If you have any questions, please contact the DD Council office at (800) 452-1936.

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