InShape Program Celebrates 20th Anniversary and the life of innovator Ken Jue

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Ken and Carol Jue.

“Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and say, why not?” -Robert Kennedy

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MANCHESTER, NH – Ken Jue, a longtime resident of Keene, spent his career as a mental health professional. In this capacity, he came across a startling conclusion: people with mental health disorders lived shorter lives than the rest of the population. To him, this was unacceptable. If he could, he would do something about it.

His idea: to pair those with mental health concerns together with exercise coaches in order to increase positive health incomes. Though the program started small, it proved so successful that it has since been implemented nationwide with a multitude of studies proving its efficacy. The program is called InShape.

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From left, Bill Ryder, Patricia Carty, Carol Jue, and Nathaniel Jue. Photo/Winter Trabex

The program entered its 20th anniversary at the end of November this year. A celebration was held in Manchester last week with many in-person invited guests as well as participating agencies from around the country logging into Zoom to take part. The theme of the event was repeated throughout: without Ken Jue, the program would not exist. His actions and support helped more people than even he knew.

Jue passed away in May 2022. Those who remember him recalled his unfailing compassion, consideration, and empathy. Whether he was attending conferences in Norway, or working with his local rotary club, he was the same person: committed to improving the lives of others, dedicated to using his energy for the betterment of humankind.

“I don’t know if we would be here if Carol [Jue] didn’t say yes to Ken some fifty-four years ago as they were both working on or getting their graduate degrees in social work,” former Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester CEO Bill Ryder said. “Because what happened when they joined together, they became a very powerful force for good in our world. We’re very fortunate that they chose Keene, New Hampshire to be their lifelong home. They helped others to be their best selves.”

Today, the InShape program continues to help others to be their best selves. The program is guided by the participants: exercises can range from nature walks to trips to the gym to pickleball games to yoga exercise. The program has been proven not only to help its participants lose weight, but to generate positive life outcomes for those involved. The program has thus far succeeded as much, if not more, than Ken Jue envisioned it would.

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Rik Cornell, Vice President of Community Relations. The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, at the podium. Photo/Carol Robidoux

“In hindsight, we look back I think about how visionary Ken was,” current Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester CEO Patricia Carty said. “Right now, we’re in this state of really you can’t go anywhere without hearing about integrated care. Our state is headed in this direction. He was so visionary to think about the fact that health and mind went together.”

Where once the program had humble beginnings as an experimental out-there idea, today the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester operates this program with several coaches, who together assist a wide variety of clients. In addition, the program assists with smoking cessation, weight loss, and nutritional guidance. Participants must be clients of the Mental Health Center of Greater Management to be eligible for the program.

Danielle Merrill
InShape Coach Danielle Merrill. Photo/Winter Trabex
InShape Coaches
InShape Coaches, aka “Purple People,” are the heart and soul of the program. Photo/Winter Trabex


About this Author

Winter Trabex

Winter Trabex is a freelance writer from Manchester and regular contributor to Community Voices.