Nothing came easy this day, but the effort was worth it.

These city kids had a chance to get out of the urban jungle and onto the Merrimack River — with fresh breezes and flowing water instead of the hot summer pavement of their neighborhoods.

But to get onto the water they'd have to carry kayaks to the river's edge and then paddle their way down river. There would be no sitting back in a motorboat.

And another challenge emerged: They'd have to step outside their comfort zone and do it alongside police officers.

The young people chose to accept the challenge. The result was an experience that allowed them to break the ice with a few cops, get to know them and develop a sense of trust.

This recent team-building exercise created by the Haverhill Police-Youth Dialogues program provided a safe way for young people and police officers to spend time together and speak openly.

The effort involved Haverhill officers and two local youth organizations — Haverhill VIP (Violence Intervention and Prevention) and POSE (Power of Self-Education).

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