A community effort in a downtown St. John's neighbourhood is hoping not only to clean up the area, but also change the area's public image.

Last year, Joey Whalen was beaten at a known drug house on Tessier Place. He later died from his injuries.

Some residents in the area said they were afraid to leave their homes after the incident.

However, people in the area teamed up with Choices for Youth for a community cleanup on Wednesday to try to change the negative image some associate with Tessier Place.

Sheridan Thompson

Area resident Sheridan Thompson says it was important for her children to take part in the community cleanup so they could identify potentially harmful trash, like needles and glass, if she wasn't around. (CBC)

Area resident Chad Griffiths said that's not the only reason for the cleanup effort.

"There's no secret this neighbourhood has been in the media for some negative reasons lately, and I think in part it might have been a response to that, but you know it could have just been the motivating factor because at the core of it it's not built in tragedy, it's just people trying to get to know each other," said Griffiths.

"This is an incredibly diverse neighbourhood and I think everyone sort of appreciates that. Right now we're just doing basics, getting to know each other, sweeping up, and not really tackling issues so much as just kind of making friends, making neighbours and making community."

Sheridan Thompson, who lives nearby, brought her kids to the cleanup. She said it was important to get her kids involved in the effort.

"There are some problems but it is always on the improve, and the one great thing about the neighbourhood is that everyone's linked to each other, so it's a diverse and it's a mixed neighbourhood, so you're bound to have some less than desirable occurrences sometimes," said Thompson.

However, she said there are still things that need to be taken care of to really clean up the area.

"Everybody wants to have a beer and oversee the Narrows, and that's understandable, but we were just cleaning up [at the park] and we found a needle, and this is a place where my kids hang out, too, and there's broken glass all over the place so we can't really clean that up today."

Thompson said she doesn't think her children should hang out at the area park alone yet, but at least things are on the way to changing.