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Braces are not an inexpensive purchase, which is why two organizations—a non-profit and a local business—have teamed up to produce as many “Big Smiles” as they possibly can.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central & Southern Interior of BC (BBBSCSI) and Kelowna’s Align Straight Smiles will be teaming up to provide braces to students whose families are facing financial barriers to Orthodontic treatment.

The initiative is called Big Smiles, and it will be an ongoing venture.

“Our vision is to help all young people realize their full potential, which is why Big Smiles is all about building self-confidence in our youth so they can achieve personal success one smile at a time,” BBBSCSI executive director Helen Brownrigg says.

A girl with braces a Big SmileAlign Straight Smiles was founded in Kelowna more than 41 years ago and has become an integral part of the community. Dr. Don Scramstad started the business in 1981, and his son, Dr. James Scramstad, is now continuing the family tradition. The team at Align will provide complimentary consultation and braces to several qualifying students in the Okanagan Valley each year.

BBBSCSI, meanwhile, will work directly with local schools throughout the Central and Southern Interior to identify students who are eligible for the program. A Grade 6 student from Watson Elementary School is already in the program and has just six months remaining until the braces come off.

Crowded teeth can cause dental health issues and can lead to a lack of self-confidence in some people. The ongoing initiative will provide straight, healthy teeth and can improve self-esteem for those in the program. Once the treatment is complete, participants will be eager to show off their new smiles.

The mental well-being of students is important to both BBBSCSI and Dr. Scramstad, who both have strong community relationships with businesses and non-profits throughout the Interior. They know mental health concerns continue to increase among young people, and the Big Smiles program is one way to help that cause.

Align Straight Smiles offers both braces and clear aligners to straighten teeth. It uses the latest digital technology and offer direct billing to insurance for their patients. More information about the practice can be found on Align Ortho Kelowna on Instagram, Align Ortho Kelowna on Facebook and Align Ortho Kelowna on TikTok.

Happy Smiles = Happy People

BBBSCSI offers an extensive variety of one-to-one and group programs and has pivoted to offer these essential resources virtually when required. Its effective and evidence-based programs are designed to increase empathy, self-awareness and self-regulation, therefore enhancing cognitive functioning, personal success, friendships, and resiliency in both students and communities.

One way in which you can help the Big Smiles program and BBBSCSI overall is through the organization’s Renew Crew, which collects clothing donations and small household items to raise money. All you need to do is call 250-765-2661 or email renewcrew.reception@bigbrothersbigsisters.ca to schedule a free pickup.