Juniper award

Juniper classes help people manage chronic conditions, get fit, and prevent falls.

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, or n4a, recently recognized the Minnesota-developed Juniper program with a 2019 Aging Innovations Award, the highest honor presented by n4a to member agencies.

The award goes to aging programs that develop and implement cutting-edge approaches to support older adults, people with disabilities, and their family caregivers. The awards are supported by WellCare Health Plans and were presented during the n4a annual conference, July 27-31 in New Orleans.

As part of the Juniper network, Minnesota AAAs have become hubs for community health and wellness. In the Arrowhead region, the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging plays that role. Across the state, they partner with 133 provider organizations and 660 class leaders. Some of our local partners include Age Well Arrowhead (St. Louis County), Community Partners (Lake), ElderCircle (Itasca), Aitkin County Care (Aitkin), Koochiching Aging Options (Koochiching), Sawtooth Mountain Clinic (Cook).

“We are honored to be one of the Area Agencies in Minnesota collaborating on this great work,” said Kristi Kane, director of the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging. “Juniper has delivered health promotion classes to more than 16,000 people in Minnesota through a broad, distributed network that is deeply rooted in local communities. It’s making a difference in people’s lives.”

Juniper classes help people manage chronic conditions, get fit, and prevent falls. The website ( makes it easy to find and register for classes anywhere in the state. An online referral function provides a convenient way for healthcare providers, social service workers, and friends and family to connect people who would benefit from Juniper classes to local leaders who can help them find the right class for them.

A powerful technology platform and a nimble management services infrastructure provide scalability and sustainability. Importantly, emerging partnerships with healthcare organizations are establishing new pathways for funding health promotion and disease prevention activities.

“The work that the Minnesota AAAs across the state have done is remarkable. We commend them for their excellent work,” said Sandy Markwood, chief executive officer of n4a.

The Arrowhead Regional Development Commission is a regional comprehensive planning and development agency serving the counties of Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis in Northeast Minnesota. ARDC’s mission is to serve the people of the Arrowhead Region by providing local units of government and citizen groups a means to work cooperatively in identifying needs, solving problems and fostering local leadership.

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