(February 4, 2022) How many 13-year-olds are comfortable addressing large crowds and delivering motivational speeches? Or for that matter, how many of them host YouTube channels celebrating other young achievers? Chennai-based Hasini Lakshmi Narayanan does. The class eight student began her tryst with public speaking after she attended one that changed her life. Ever since, she began hosting her YouTube channel – The First Step that has so far highlighted the journeys of over 90 child achievers. She also launched the First Step organisation where she employs over 20 students to create motivational content. More recently, Hasini was appointed by the Tamil Nadu government as its young nutrition ambassador.
The girl whose father inspired her
Born in Chennai in 2008, the Chettinad Vidyashram student grew up watching her entrepreneur father Lakshmi Narayanan travel to various schools and colleges for public speaking assignments. And that inspired TN’s young nutrition ambassador. “I’m following in his footsteps,” smiles Hasini. She developed a passion for public speaking at age five, and found that her parents always encouraged her. “I never had any stage fright, nor did I feel shy. I’ve always found it easy to connect with others and my parents have been a huge support system,” she says.
When the idea struck
The turning point came when Hasini attended a talk by Sujith Kumar of Maatram Foundation. “I’ve always been a very hyperactive kid and usually find it hard to sit in one place. As I heard him talk about his journey, and what children can achieve, I was transfixed. That was the first time I sat through a speech. I was nine then,” says the teen, who was inspired by the speech to explore public speaking. “Since then, I began participating in school debates and inter school competitions,” adds TN’s young nutrition ambassador.
But then the lockdowns began, and the bubbly girl was forced to stay home, and hanker down her enthusiasm. “I was bored out of my wits and wanted to use my time productively. That is when my father asked if I wanted to work on a project with him for Father’s Day and interview some children,” she reveals. That’s how in June 2020, TN’s young nutrition ambassador began interviewing children on their achievements and journeys on YouTube.
While she started out interviewing friends and cousins, she soon found achievers like Nihal Tamanna (founder Recyclemybattery), the Great Australian Spelling Bee twins Harpith and Harpitha Pandian, Kush Malpani, Manas Bam, Anya Pandit, Vinisha Umashankar (who spoke at Cop26) among others to share their journeys and achievements on the First Step, which has nearly 2,000 followers. “Through these interviews, we speak to prodigies across the world – we have so far featured children from 12 countries – on their journeys, talents and achievements,” says Hasini, for whom it was a learning experience and hugely inspirational.
Going beyond interviews
By July 2020, Hasini had established The First Step organisation which currently has 20 youngsters working with her to create motivational content targeted at youth empowerment. “Our brainstorming sessions are fun. All of us bring our ideas to the table and decide the theme for each month. We also have over 100 youth ambassadors,” says TN’s young nutrition ambassador, who also frequently contributes articles to The Hindu school edition.
Hasini was also invited to deliver her maiden TEDx talk in April 2021 where she spoke about – The First Step to Conquer. In January 2022, she gave her second TED talk on climate change. “Becoming a TEDx speaker was a dream come true. I’d always watch TED videos and dreamt of becoming one myself. So, when I got the opportunity, I was thrilled,” says the teen, who hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps as an entrepreneur and public speaker.
Appointed by the TN government as its young nutrition ambassador in December 2021, she is thrilled. “It is my responsibility to create awareness about the importance of nutrition in adolescent girls. I do this through video clips and events, and have even tied up with Dr Koushalya Nathan, a leading nutritionist in Chennai,” adds the teen, who is also an avid painter and holds two graduations from Global Art by SIC Academy.
While she has a lot going on to keep her on her toes, TN’s young nutrition ambassador admits sheepishly that she is not the most organised. “My father helps me organise myself so I give academics my first priority. Everything goes on parallelly. What I try to do to ease the process is to schedule my interviews for the last week of the month, and then work on transcribing them,” she smiles, adding, “I try to stick to my to-do lists without burdening myself with deadlines.”
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