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Teen girls plan The Confidence Conference for peers in Lancaster, Pa.

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Sarah Phillippe is I am 16-year-old high school junior attending an online school. The flexible schedule gives her plenty of time to work on the planning committee for something she is very passionate about – The Confidence Conference, an event for teenage girls planned by teenage girls in Lancaster, Pa.

Examiner spoke with Sarah on Feb. 4 about why this conference is so important to her.

How did you get involved in the Confidence Conference?

I first attended the Confidence Conference in 2011. I learned a lot while I was there and ultimately, my confidence and faith grew from that experience. After that, I wanted to share what I had learned with everyone I knew. After I had found my confidence, I saw the many girls around me who were so broken like I was. It broke my heart to see so many girls who couldn't see how beautiful they are. It still does. When Erika (one of the original planning team members) came to me asking if I wanted to help, I couldn't help but enthusiastically say yes. This is my second year actually planning and I am currently preparing for next year when I take lead as a senior.

What are your duties?

Being on the planning team, I have been assigned many things. This year in particular, we tried to specify responsibilities. Basically, I am in charge of the P.R. stuff and advertising. I want to make it clear, though, that planning is a team effort. There are about 10-15 teenage girls. As a team, we decided on the speaker, band, location, costs, website design, etc. We do have a couple of adult leaders who help us, but for the most part, everything is planned by us.

Who should attend the conference?

In the past, we've had anywhere between 300-400 girls. This year we are planning for 500 girls.

Who should attend the conference?

Every girl 6th through 12th grade should attend. We welcome any girl from any background or in any situation.

Why should they attend the conference?

The Confidence Conference is a really cool event where girls can just be themselves and expect no judgment. The conference is for girls who are broken, struggling, or looking to gain something. Instead of tearing each other down, I've seen total strangers unite because of that. There are many different breakouts (mini sessions that explore more specific topics), so girls have the opportunity to work through specific issues that they may be facing. Or, perhaps they would rather relax in a spa or learn how to decorate a cake - we've got fun breakouts for that too. Basically, there is something for everyone, and everyone is welcome.

What do you hope girls will get out of the conference?

We want girls to leave the conference with the following:

- knowledge that NO MATTER WHAT LIES this world throws at them, they can stand up and be confident in who they are in Christ because those lies are just that, lies.
- we want them to leave with stronger relationships with the girls they came with, or with tools to strengthen their relationships.
- ways to connect with their friends on a sisters in Christ level that will allow them to help each other work through whatever they are going through.
- knowing without a doubt that they are beautiful in Christ.

- Most importantly, we want them to know that they are beautiful and in Christ they have an eternal, unconditional agape love. They are loved, even when it doesn't seem like it.

How has planning the conference helped your own confidence?

I have seen firsthand, God's miracles and the amazing things He has done. I've seen how good He is and the love He has for His daughters. Through the planning process, I have learned to go out of my comfort zone. A couple of years ago, I was so uncomfortable asking people for things like this. If it weren't for the conference I still wouldn't be comfortable calling people or asking for things, but I have learned to break out of my shell and experience new things (even if they are uncomfortable). I've learned that speaking in front of people isn't as bad as people make it out to be. I have the confidence to share my passion with a large group of people now.

The Confidence Conference will be held Feb. 22 in Lancaster, Pa. For more info visit http://confidenceconference.wix.com/2014.

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