Make us your home page

Girls, let's talk: Conference to explore serious issues facing teens

Christian singing group Point of Grace — Shelley Breen, Leigh Cappillino and Denise Jones, from left — started Girls of Grace conferences years ago.

Warner Music Group, Word Entertainment

Christian singing group Point of Grace — Shelley Breen, Leigh Cappillino and Denise Jones, from left — started Girls of Grace conferences years ago.

BRANDON — Cyberbullying.



As stories of adolescent girls ending their lives generate headlines, questions arise about whom to blame. Psychologists say the issues girls face today directly affect their emotional well-being. Meanwhile, concerned parents look for warning signs and ways to talk to their teens.

Enter Girls of Grace, a conference taking place Saturday at Bell Shoals Baptist Church for girls, their mothers and youth leaders. The nationwide effort, started in 2002 by Christian recording group Point of Grace, seeks to empower young women through faith in Christ.

At the event, participants will talk openly with speakers about topics ranging from eating disorders and cutting to social media.

"A lot of times parents don't know where to begin," said Leigh Cappillino, 44, of Point of Grace. "State to state, city to city, whatever community we go to, there's no denying that the worries and fears are all the same. These are extreme issues these girls are dealing with, not which hair product should they use."

The idea for Girls of Grace came after Point of Grace members Cappillino, Denise Jones and Shelley Breen became mothers themselves. At concerts, women came to them seeking advice.

"Moms of teenage girls would ask us questions or girls would say, 'Hey, can I talk to you about a certain problem?' so we saw a need," Cappillino said. "When we started the conference, the floodgates opened. It was eye-opening to learn how inner demons can eat away at these girls, leading to depression and anger.

"We want them to understand God has a purpose for them, that the purpose for their life is to live, lead and love."

Organizers themed this year's conference "Live Freely, Love Fiercely and Lead Fearlessly." Christian recording artists Britt Nicole, Royal Tailor, Amanda Noelle and Point of Grace will perform. Young adult authors Emily Freeman, Ketric Newell and Annie Downs will speak.

Those who attend will have the opportunity to text in personal questions.

Downs, author of Speak Love: Making Your Words Matter, will talk about bullying. Words kill and words give life, she says in the book.

"Annie talks down and dirty about what it looks like to be a mean girl," Cappillino said. "She says, 'If this is you, it's time to take a look in the mirror.' "

Girls of Grace is a chance for women of all ages to heal and grow together, Cappillino said. The conference is targeted to girls in grades 6-12.

At the end of the day, the girls and their mothers will separate to give both groups a chance to ask questions.

"It's a time to be real," Cappillino said. "It's not 'throw your stick in the fire and sing Kumbaya.' It's cool."

Sarah Whitman can be reached at

. If you go

Girls of Grace conference

When, where: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Bell Shoals Baptist Church, 2102 Bell Shoals Road, Brandon.

Cost: $54 at the door.

Features: Performances by Point of Grace, Britt Nicole, Royal Tailor, Amanda Noelle; presentations by young adult authors Emily Freeman, Ketric Newell and Annie Downs.


Girls, let's talk: Conference to explore serious issues facing teens 11/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 4:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Five ideas for cool summer snacks


    The 90-degree temperatures are not letting up anytime soon. We Floridians know to keep some cold treats on hand through September. Ice cream. Lemonade. Ice pops. Whether you're packing a beach cooler or preparing for a pool party, we've got you covered. Level up your summer snack game with these five refreshing …

    What’s not to like about a homemade ice cream sandwich? The thin chocolate cake bakes in about 10 to 12 minutes, and from there it’s all chilling out.
  2. Who is really making 'Chihuly art'?

    Visual Arts

    SEATTLE — More than 40 years later, Jeffrey Beers still vividly remembers what it felt like to have Dale Chihuly call up to convene a pre-dawn glassblowing session. You felt flattered and inspired, he said, jazzed by Mr. Chihuly's caffeinated freight train of energy and the idea of making art with him while most …

    The artist Dale Chihuly in his Seattle office, which holds some of his collections. [Kyle Johnson | for The New York Times]
  3. Frozen pops for breakfast? A perfect recipe for summer


    In the heat of the summer when you trade your hot coffee for iced, why not add some extra chill to your morning smoothie, too? That's essentially what these fun breakfast pops are: a frozen smoothie on a stick.

    Strawberry Almond Breakfast Pops are essentially a frozen smoothie on a stick, perfect for the heat of summer.
  4. Recipe for Chicken Wings with Coconut Sweet Potato Puree


    This dish is an homage to one of my favorite Epcot International Food and Wine Festival dishes: Grilled Beef Skewer With Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree from the Patagonia kiosk. A boniato is a sweet potato with whiter flesh and a typically sweeter flavor. I use standard sweet potatoes in this recipe, plus a little …

    Chicken Wings with Sweet Potato Puree. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  5. The 'Total Eclipse' song from the '80s you never knew you loved


    Depending on when you read this, you are eagerly awaiting the eclipse or have seen all the commotion come and go for the first total solar eclipse across America since 1918. Without any doubts, sometime today you will probably have a chance to hear Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse Of The Heart, but here at Stuck in …