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North Star Academy student Kaiya Smith and physical education teacher Nate Hanson listen to Kathy Hermes talk about the Safe Place programs Thursday afternoon. (Steve Kuchera /

Safety, in small numbers: Organizers hope more troubled kids can benefit from "Safe Place" initiative

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Finding himself on the streets of Duluth, Jon Knauer knew he had a safe place he could turn to.

Then 17, Knauer walked up the stairs at 102 W. First St. to Renaissance House one day last July.


“I just told them that I wasn’t really doing good,” Knauer said during a recent interview. “I was in an unsafe environment. … I wanted to clean myself up, focus on a straight path.”

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