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By Sidney Simon

The IALAC (I Am Loveable and Capable) story is about a day in the life of a typical young kid. Let’s say his name is Johnny and he’s 11-years-old. Every morning he puts on his IALAC sign, excited and ready to face the world. However, his excitement fades throughout the day as he constantly gets put down by others. This happens at home and at school. His mother berates him for not cleaning his room. His brother nags him for taking too long in the bathroom. His teacher calls him out in class for not having his homework completed. As these “put-downs” occur, little pieces of Johnny get chipped away – his IALAC sign is ripped apart, piece-by-piece. By the end of the day, the sign is almost all gone.

Everyone deserves to be loved and appreciated. This story shows how easy it is – and how often it we – slowly chip away at one’s ability to feel loved and capable of something. When we “take away” actual pieces of someone’s “IALAC” sign, it’s a symbol for how we are affecting that person’s self-esteem. We must first remember that everyone is loveable and capable, even in the face of wrongdoing or misbehavior.

This is a summary of the IALAC story, first published by Sidney Simon in 1973. Feel free to tell your own version of this story at a morning chapel, campfire, or evening devotions. This story can be modified to fit specific groups, and it can also be dramatized for student participation (call up a few campers to role play the scenes as you narrate the story!).


  • Piece of paper
  • Tape
  • Marker


Call on a few campers to play the role of Johnny, Johnny’s mother, brother, teacher, and any other characters you’d like to include in the story. Write, in big letters, the word “IALAC” on the piece of paper. Tape paper to Johnny’s shirt. As you narrate the story, every time some “puts down” Johnny, rip a piece off the paper. By the end of the story, the paper should almost all be gone, just a small piece left hanging by the tape. At this point in the story, the pieces should start to come back together. Every person who “put down” Johnny will reconnect with him and share remorse for how they made him feel. Once they do that, they tape pack the piece of paper they ripped to his sign. At the end of the story, Johnny’s IALAC sign will be in one whole piece again. While the “IALAC” sign is whole again, it’s not perfect, and it’s not the way it looked before. While we can pick up the pieces of our life and be whole again, it will look and feel different than before.

Moral of the story/important concepts

  • Everyone is loving and capable.
  • We all have worth and value.
  • We want to be understood.
  • Respect for self and respect for others
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