Georgia's first lady, Sandra Deal, came home to Gainesville Monday to help unveil the Smile for a Lifetime Foundation at Wilson Orthodontics.
The foundation will provide financial assistance to children who need orthodontic care but cannot afford braces.
Wilson Orthodontics' foundation is a chapter of a national organization started in 2008 by an orthodontist in Arkansas. It will be the first chapter in Northeast Georgia and the fourth in the state.
"A smile is the universal language," Deal said. "It's important that children have the self-confidence to open their mouths and share a smile."
Dr. Ron Wilson said the board of directors will meet quarterly to review applications and choose candidates to receive scholarships.
"There's a pretty strong link that shows that children who have a nice, healthy, beautiful, straight smile tend to have more self confidence, self-esteem and tend to go further in life," Wilson said.
"These are kids we're looking at who show up for school, show up for their class assignments; if they have extra curricular activities they show up there ... the kids who are really trying and either the parents have fallen into hard times or just do not have the means to afford this."
Wilson said on average, braces cost about $5,000. The foundation will provide orthodontic care for 10 children each year.
Wilson said the hope is that the gift of orthodontic care will help recipients better themselves and their communities.
"One of the things we're requiring of the recipients of these scholarships is 10 hours of community service. We're trying to plant that seed early on so they know about giving back," Wilson said.
While Deal was in Hall County, she also spoke to children at Centennial Elementary School and Mount Vernon
Elementary School about good dental hygiene.
"I'm interested in the whole child and that includes good nutrition and dental care," Deal said. "Giving them good smiles, building up self confidence for the future is something we want to stress."
Those interested in more information can visit the website.