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Go ahead, join Toronto's back-to-school campaign: The Love-olution

Local artists are fighting racism with art in a new back-to-school campaign that embodies love and unity.

Some of the products designed by Artists Against Racism for their new campaign Love-olution, in time for back to school.

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Some of the products designed by Artists Against Racism for their new campaign Love-olution, in time for back to school.

A new campaign is looking to send kids back to school equipped with messages of unity and love.

Love-olution is the latest campaign from Artists Against Racism, a Toronto-based charity that engages youth through creative and public education initiatives.

For now the campaign consists of a line of items — including backpacks, shirts, hoodies, dresses, laptop and phone covers and pencil pouches — adorned with images of hugging-hearts designed by local artist Kurt Swinghammer.

Later on, the group will have art workshops in different schools, in an effort to get kids involved in designing products that send messages of love, hope and stress the importance of diversity.

The campaign is timely given the "insidious underlying racism" against all minorities, said the group's founder and executive director Lisa Cherniak. U.S. president Donald Trump's rhetoric has helped create an environment that's "toxic" for young people, she said.

Lisa Cherniak, left, and Iffat Hasan are two of the many people behind Artists Against Racism.

Elizabeth Czafit

Lisa Cherniak, left, and Iffat Hasan are two of the many people behind Artists Against Racism.

"Racism has always existed but Trump is making it the norm," she said, noting there's now more "overt" racism and hate both in the U.S. and Canada. "Racists don't hide themselves anymore, and you're going to have kids listening to this on a daily basis and thinking it's OK."

Artists Against Racism has previously collaborated with celebrities, including RUSH, The Tragically Hip, Sarah McLaughlin, Mike Myers and more, to create radio and TV ads as well as billboards with messages promoting compassion and unity.

Cherniak said the hope is to get more high profile artists, musicians, authors and actors involved in the Love-olution campaign so that kids can have better role models to look up to.

"There's always going to be hatred, but we can overwhelm society with a lot of acts of kindness," she said.

Items can be purchased online. Proceeds go to anti-racism charities and campaigns.

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