BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Police Department is using fitness as a tool to connect with inner-city kids, through an intense workout designed to break down the barriers.

Every Sunday at around 9:30 a.m., a group of 15 teenagers from Patterson High School meet at the Baltimore City Police Southeast District to work out.

“We want to occupy their free time and you know when you have a lot of free time you do bad stuff, so we want to bring them in so we can fill that time and use that time wisely.” said Officer Paul Rivera.

It’s all part of a new youth program, designed to promote physical activity and help teens build a better relationship with police officers, so they turn away from violence.

“I think anything positive we can do to engage our youth is what we want to do.” Mayor Jack Young said.

“Students who could have been in big trouble, could have headed down the wrong track, but now are on track for graduation.” said City Councilmember Zeke Cohen.

From boxing to weight training and cardio, some students said it’s more than just a workout.

“It’s very helpful, it’s all positive, it helps get the negative energy out. I want to be here, it’s not something they forced me to do it’s something I wanted.” said student Horace Moye.

“It keeps me focused in school, keeps me on track, not skipping class.” said student Dennis Mena.

Officials said their plan is to grow the program so they can get more kids involved.

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