Over a decade ago, Russell Elefterion and officials from Hillsborough County's teen program noticed that the majority of kids in their teen program were boys.
They came up with the idea of creating girls clubs to attract female teenagers to get together. But Elefterion realized they needed to do more.
So in 2002, the first girls conference was held in an effort to gather teen girls in one place to learn how to strengthen their social skills, advance their career goals, and to find out more information about nutrition, hair, skin and nail care. The first conference drew about 100 girls, Elefterion said.
This year's countywide conference, titled "Sweet and Successful Girls Conference," will be held on Tuesday, June 12 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Northdale Recreation Center, 15550 Spring Pine Drive. The cost is $10 per person, for girls ages 12-17. The cost includes lunch and a T-shirt, and registration runs now through May 25 at any county recreation center.
"Girls around that age can get mean and vicious with each other, and we wanted them to be sweet and kind, and send an anti-bullying kind of message," Elefterion said. "We want them to have a better appreciation for each other, and for them to start thinking of setting goals early in their lives. No sense of waiting until you're a senior in high school."
This year's conference will also include a visit from April Lufriu, Miss America 2011. In addition, there will also be appearances from officials at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay to discuss how to get along with people, a zumba exercise session, makeovers from a local salon and etiquette sessions.
Kisha Perry, recreation program supervisor, said the idea is for the girls to have a "fun, interactive learning environment" at the conference.
Perry said she hopes girls walk away with a better sense of socialization.
"It's about allowing them to be able to socialize with other girls, meet new friends and people," she said. "They can develop friendships out of it and have an experience so they share with friends their experience with parks and rec. They can come away with some life-changing knowledge."
For more information on the conference, which is sponsored by the Friends of the County Parks, call 813-264-8956.