Cathy Burds, Founder of Justice Speaks (doing business as Positive Impact 2) first experienced major trauma at the age of 3, when she was already suffering from hearing loss. The trauma she endured was imparted by an extended family member and though she was too young to understand the term sexual assault. Finding resources to support her healing was frustrating as there was so little out there. And as she learned about the clinics, therapists, medical providers and organizations all ready to help, she also saw how expensive they were and how hard it was to find the right resources for her particular experience. Cathy wondered: if she is having a difficult time finding care even though she is fortunate to be able to afford them, how are others less fortunate able to deal with their trauma?
In 2015, Cathy found an opportunity to address her PTSD with the support of a service dog who has helped her become more independent, Justice, a Bernese mountain dog. Unfortunately, Cathy and Justice experienced discrimination almost immediately when they worked together. Now, Cathy fights to educate the public about Justice. In Cathy’s words “Yes, it’s a service dog, and yes, it’s my right.”
Cathy created a nonprofit, Positive Impact 2, with a name that symbolized the double impact of trauma that passes on to other generations. The number 2 represents the effects of trauma on the offspring of survivors. She wasn’t the only member of her family suffering through this healing process; her father, a veteran, didn’t have resources to support him with his PTSD.
To learn more, Cathy completed an intensive course through Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. There she learned more about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how she had protected rights as a citizen with a disability and a service dog owner.
In 2021, Cathy Burds and Dr. Sara Tarr of Clear Alignment created the Justice Speaks curriculum to support owners of service dogs. As of February 2022, Justice Speaks has transitioned to doing business as the 501c3 nonprofit Positive Impact 2. Justice Speaks aims to connect people with access to service dog related resources, and build a path to a world without discrimination.