Juniper Receives National Aging Innovations Award

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) has 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, the Area Agencies on Agings (AAA) in Minnesota have become hubs for community health and wellness. In southwest Minnesota, the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging (MNRAAA) plays that role. Across the state, AAAs partner with 133 provider organizations and 660 class leaders. Local partners include A.C.E. of Southwest Minnesota, Club Bethesda, VINE Faith in Action, Ortonville Area Health Services, and Swift County – Benson Health Services

“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said Jason W. Swanson, executive director of MNRAAA. “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 has done is remarkable. We commend them for their excellent work,” said Sandy Markwood, Chief Executive Officer of n4a.

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