ASPIRING artists are putting their skills to good use by launching a project to tackle the threat of extremism online.

Arts Against Extremism is a youth-led project aimed at supporting people aged 16 to 21 to become activists, flooding social media with positive messages about their communities.

Created in partnership by the Arts Council, Waltham Forest Council and the Home Office, the project was launched on Saturday October 14 at Centre17 in Church Hill, Walthamstow.

Cllr Sharon Waldron, cabinet member for community safety and cohesion, said the aim is to give every young person in the borough the encouragement to become a “voice for social change”.

Cllr Waldron said: “All too often our media space is filled with extremist rhetoric. There is a clear need for positive messages and a counter-narrative.”

Jevelle Hibbert, 16, who has signed up for the project, said: “This programme will be a step towards making Waltham Forest a more positive place to live, the air a little bit clearer and the world a safer place.”

“I believe that the younger generations have the skills to tackle this.”

Arts Against Extremism was launched to coincide with Hate Crime Awareness Week, which will run until October 21.

Participants will receive training in social media use and advice on how to deal with opposition online. They will create films, some of which will be developed by producers at communications agency M&C Saatchi and screened at the 2018 Walthamstow Film Festival.

Anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner Hibo Wardere of Walthamstow praised the “pioneering project”.

She said: “It recognises the wider harms of extremism, including FGM, and aims to engage youths in becoming a positive voice that stands up against it. “I will be following the project’s every move online and supporting it wherever I can.”

The launch of the project follows the Home Office’s findings from March 2017 identifying 126,000 tweets containing extremist messages and the rise of ‘fake news’ and ‘trolling’ on social media.

In 2014 Waltham Forest Council issued the UK’s first extremism ASBO (antisocial behavior order).

The deadline to register for the project is November 27.

To register click here.