The Nothfield Union of Youth was formed in 1993 and in 1995 they purchased their first building to establish a youth-run youth center. In 2010, they acquired a new property and have been steadily building out the greatly expanded space.
The Key serves approximately 800 youth (ages 12-20) each year with free daily programming including Book Club, Art Project, Game Night, Movie Night, Cooking Class, and Hip-Hop Club. In addition, the youth contribute over 600 hours of volunteer work each quarter. Perhaps most importantly, The Key gives youth an opportunity to run their own organization.
They like living in Northfield because of the colleges. They said that the colleges set a kind of atmosphere for the town, make substantial contributions to the culture, offer youthful energy and a tradition of volunteering in the community.
The youth noted that downtown Northfield has lost a few of their favorite hang-outs over the years, such as Tiny’s. They also note that there has been a steady reduction in free activities for youth.
They are really disappointed by the loss of the Skatepark. They had an agreement with the City of Northfield to raise $40,000 for the new Skatepark; they raised the money but the project has ground to a halt. They have preserved the pieces of the old City Skatepark but can’t afford the cost of the insurance.
As for ways for making them feel more welcome, they suggested that businesses reach out to The Key, both in marketing and collaborations. They note that The Key brings at least 50 youth each day to downtown and that they value proximity and an inviting atmosphere.
The quality of life for their workers could be increased through affordable health insurance and greater stability of funding. All creative ideas in these areas are appreciated.