Helping Adults Remain Independent and Healthy


ElderCircle was awarded funding to help older adults maintain active living and independence. “The Community Foundation provided ElderCircle with several grants during our Annual Grant Cycle,” says Sarah Copeland, Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Director of Grants and Programs. “Their services and professional staff make it possible for many of our older citizens to remain independent and healthy. This week, we will talk about ElderCircle’s Bone Builders S.A.I.L. program.”

Bone Builders Stay Active & Independent for Life (S.A.I.L.)

Bone Builders is a no-impact exercise program for older adults to increase strength, flexibility and balance, all of which can prevent falls and prevent or reverse osteoporosis. Bone Builders also provides socialization for older adults who may otherwise be isolated and lonely.

PHOTO: MaryJo Gibbons (L) and Cathy Sayward (R) present two grants for the S.A.I.L Program (formerly Bone Builders) to Cindy Stage of ElderCircle.

In 2020, ElderCircle will transition Bone Builders to “Stay Active & Independent for Life (S.A.I.L.), which is very similar to Bone Builders but adds aerobics. SAIL is “evidence-based” which means it is scientifically proven to produce intended results. It is designed for active older adults to maintain activity levels and prevent or delay the effects of aging, and for frail or less active adults to increase/regain their activity levels.

The twice-weekly sessions include slow-moving light arm and leg weight exercises to build muscle and increase bone density, balance and stretching exercises to increase mobility, flexibility and energy. SAIL includes 18-20 minutes of aerobics to exercise the body’s most important muscle, the heart, and to raise oxygen levels in the body.

Bone Builders brings exercise, education and socialization to 14 outlying communities in rural Bigfork, Bowstring, Deer River, Dora Lake, two sites in Grand Rapids, Hill City, Jacobson, Northome, Lawrence Lake, Nashwauk, Pengilly, Togo, and Wabana. During January-June 2019, 277 participants attended 5,633 sessions, and the average participant age was 73. There is no cost for participants and sessions are led by volunteers age 55+.

Respondents in a June 2019 survey reported improved balance (87% of respondents), increased physical strength (92%), improved flexibility (88%), and increased energy (82%) all of which indicate Bone Builders has a positive impact on the health and well-being of participants.

ElderCircle received two grants for the Stay Active & Independent for Life (S.A.I.L.) program (formerly Bone Builders). The Endowed Sharing Fund provided $1,312 and Gibbons Family Donor Advised Fund provided a $500 grant.

Anyone can start a family Donor Advised Fund. Donor Advised Funds allow you make tax-deductible contributions whenever you want, and then advise the Community Foundation about where and how you want to give back. Copeland adds, “The Gibbons Family has two generations with each family member contributing at different times throughout the year. The family then gets together and determines where they want to give back. It’s really neat when they join our Annual Grant Cycle. Everyone has done their homework, reading through grant applications, and then they talk about where they can do the most good.”

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has been connecting donors’ charitable intentions to community needs for over 25 years to make our Greater Itasca Area – and the world – a better place to live. We invite you to become part of the good work we do, and to include us in the conversation with your financial or estate planner to answer the question “What good do you want your money to do?” For more information, call the office at (218) 999-9100.

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350 NW 1st Ave, Suite E  | Grand Rapids, MN 55744  |  218-999-9100

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