TAMPA (FOX 13) - A group of teen girls is turning their focus from chatting with friends and planning the weekend, to making sure every young girl lives a happy and healthy lifestyle.
A group of young women from Bay Area schools created a non-profit dedicated to combating eating disorders. The girls, who met through involvement in sports, are organizing a festival to raise money for their cause.
Professionals say eating disorders are a quiet epidemic, and people of all ages need to talk more about what can cause it. The Tampa Eating Disorder Initiative aims to do just that with the Feed Your Soul Festival.
"I was trying to look at facilities and it completely surprised me, when you think how many girls you know," explained Kendall Bulleit, a student involved with the program. "You don't hear much about help that's coming."
The students' goal is to help people realize eating disorders are way more common than people think.
"When Kendall brought this idea to me, I was so excited because I had a close friend, and I had no idea what to do," student Kiley Gagainsaid.
According to the experts, half a million teenagers in the U.S. suffer from eating disorders, and 90- to 95-percent are women. Some say popular social media like Instagram and Snapchat play a big role in young women's self esteem.
"You look at the picture and you think, 'I wish I was like that girl,'" explained student Carson Gibbs. "You are made who you are supposed to be for a reason."
The young women behind the Tampa Eating Disorder Initiative said their message is all about about self-love.
"The way you view yourself is the way other people view you," student Emily Draper said. "We need to promote that image to people in the community."
The Feed Your Soul Festival will take place Sunday, October 16 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m., at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa. Money raised will benefit Tampa Eating Disorder Initiative.